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Student presenting: Tips, tricks and tackling the terror
Many students struggle with the idea of presenting in front of a group—in fact, public speaking is the average person’s number one fear. Death is number two. Jerry Seinfeld remarked on this observation by saying, “That means, to the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.” That is pretty telling!For those of you with students who would just as soon as crawl in a hole and hide, rather than stand up and present in front of a group, here are some helpful tips to help improve presentation skills and alleviate the fear of public speaking:

  • Memorize main points: Notes can be more of a distraction than a help. If possible, recommend your students forgo them. This will help them connect with the audience. A laser pointer/presentation clicker can be a great tool to keep the speaker engaged with the audience instead of just focusing on the presentation. Keep one in the classroom within easy reach.
  • Outline the presentation: If students feel compelled to have something in-hand to reference, encourage only the main points in an outline format—not a full script. Even if they are able to memorize the script, it will still sound memorized and less genuine.
  • Engage your audience: You’ve probably noticed a theme already in these tips—a great speaker keeps the audience engaged. Help students connect by encouraging them to ask questions of audience members
    and teach them the trick of rewarding participants who partake. Easy-to-give-away items, like stress relievers or beach balls, which support a speech’s theme make happy and accommodating audiences.
  • Be authentic: No matter if a student is the serious type or a class clown, have students be true to themselves. Show how one’s unique personality and voice not only strengthen the presentation but lend credibility through sincerity.
  • Practice makes perfect: Practicing in front of others ensures students become comfortable with the material and comfortable presenting in front of a group—so, set aside class time to practice!

Reduce presentation phobia
If all these presentation tips and tricks still don’t lend the confidence needed to present in public, help your students with these inspirational reminders:

  • Appreciate the audience: Remember … the audience is there to learn from the presenter, not to watch that person fail. This alone can reduce any fear or anxiety students may be experiencing.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure: As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” This statement holds as true today as it did during Roosevelt’s presidency. Help them deal with their fear by handing out journals in advance; encourage them to write their fears down on paper along with ways they plan to overcome those obstacles.
  • Be prepared: There are fewer worse feelings in the world than being unprepared. Saving a presentation to a USB drive is a great way to be ready in case of technical difficulties. Hand these out to students imprinted with a confidence-boosting message, like the one from renowned public speaking teacher Dale Carnegie, “To plunge is the only way.” And it doesn’t hurt to bring back-up copies of notes and handouts. One can never be too prepared.

Remember, having a fear of public speaking is not uncommon. Mark Twain once said, “There are only two types of speakers in the world … the nervous … and liars.” So provide the practice, preparation and support, and your students may become the next great orators.

Five Reasons Why The Fear Of Public Speaking Is Great For You.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 09 Oct. 2012. Web. 10 June 2013.

Martinez, Sylvia. “Tips for Student Presenters at Conferences.” Generation YES Blog. N.p., 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 June 2013.

“The Art of Public Speaking Quotes.” By Dale Breckenridge Carnegie. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2013.

25 Awesome Public Speaking Quotes.” 25 Awesome Public Speaking Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2013.

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