Just saying the words “public speaking” will cause many Canadians to break out in a cold sweat. In fact, it ranked as one of the top 5 biggest fears in a survey by the Canadian Cancer Society, with 28 percent of men and 37 percent of women including speaking in front of a group on their list of top fears—only slightly behind snakes. Yet, helping students hone their public speaking skills could affect their lifelong earning potential. Studies show that fear of public speaking may cut into wages by as much as10 percent.
Regardless of the subject you teach, helping students give better presentations provides them with a skill they’ll use in everyday life. Here are a few presentation ideas for students, along with presentation giveaways, that will help your students put their best foot forward.
Help them be prepared … and practice
Most people get butterflies in their stomach when it comes time to speak. But in the case of public speaking, the adage is true: Practice makes perfect, especially since knowing how to make a great speech is a learned skill, not an inherited talent. Encourage students to conduct a “dress rehearsal” by practicing in front of family, friends, or even a few teachers or staff. For students still getting used to public speaking, it can often be easier to read the speech directly instead of working off notecards. A presentation folder is a great presentation prop, giving their rehearsal a more “official” feel.
Give your students a low-stakes opportunity to speak
Give impromptu presentation ideas for students based on a simple or silly topic as a fun way for students to test their speaking skills. Have them deliver a speech where they give facts that are intentionally wrong—to help students learn that making mistakes is okay. Or, have them pick an object out of a bag and then give a short speech about why they like the object, why they dislike the object, or why the object is a metaphor for something else. Try unique objects, like a Smiley Guy Cell Phone Holder, or a Light-Up Fidget Spinner Pen.
Encourage visuals and stories
Delivering facts and figures can be difficult for listeners to remember. Studies show that a speech made up of facts has a 5 to 10 percent retention rate. By incorporating visuals into the presentation, students are likely to get a 25 to 30 percent retention rate from their audience. But a presentation made up of engaging stories with examples and emotion raises retention to a whopping 65 to 75 percent.
Have a backup plan
Things don’t always go as planned, especially when a speaker has to rely on technology. Keeping an extra copy of the presentation on a USB drive can be a huge help when technical problems occur. Giving your students presentation giveaways, like a wearable USB drive—such as a USB bracelet or USB lanyard—will ensure your students are prepared for minor mishaps.
Remember to breathe and have fun!
When we feel nervous, our breathing becomes shallow, and we may even hold our breath. Remind your students to take a few deep, relaxing breaths before they start their speech. You could even try a relaxing room spray to encourage everyone to practice their deep breathing before presentations begin.
Helping students perfect a valuable skill
While it can take a lot of practice for some of your students to feel comfortable giving presentations, offering them some presentation giveaways and reminding them to breathe, rehearse, and be ready for technical problems can help them build skills they’ll carry with them the rest of their lives.
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