Oral Communication Skills
Oral articulation of ideas and presentation of materials is an important area in which many students need practice. Regular and frequent opportunities to speak in front of small and large groups should be provided to students. This week, we offer tips to incorporate speaking skills into classroom instruction.
This Week's Tips
Reveal the Verbal Keys to Successful Public Speaking (Monday)
Teach students the verbal skills necessary for effective public speaking. Define and demonstrate for students such concepts as tone, inflection, pace, and articulation. Many libraries offer books on tape to their patrons and this is an excellent source to use in demonstration. Ask students to listen to a portion of a recorded book at least twice, once for content and once to evaluate the speaking voice of the reader. Finally, supply students with a copy of the passage being read and ask them to read along with the recording, practicing tone, inflection, pace, and articulation.
Reveal the Nonverbal Keys to Successful Public Speaking (Tuesday)
Teach students the nonverbal skills necessary for effective public speaking. Define and demonstrate for students such concepts as eye contact, gestures, stance, and facial gestures. Secure a copy of a famous speech being delivered, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech. Ask students to watch and note the nonverbal communication that King uses, and then provide students with a copy of the speech. Invite them to read the speech with King as a chorus and then to stand at their desks to deliver the speech with King, mimicking his nonverbal behaviors.
Provide Informal Speaking Opportunities (Wednesday)
Design lessons in order to incorporate opportunities for oral communication.The adage practice makes perfect applies to public speaking, and students need many opportunities to practice oral communication skills in small and large groups. Form small discussion groups and ask students to discuss comprehension questions as opposed to writing answers. Assign small projects and require students to present the projects in small groups. Incorporate the strategy of “think, pair, share” to encourage informal communication.
Provide Formal Speaking Opportunities (Thursday)
As students become more comfortable using effective oral communication skills, create opportunities for them to practice their skills in front of larger groups. Incorporate into your lessons role plays, debates, and formal presentations. Encourage students and provide positive feedback before you begin formal evaluation procedures. Bear in mind that many people strongly fear public speaking and sensitivity to students who are fearful is crucial to student success. If a student is extremely fearful of presenting in front of a large group, offer to stand beside your student. This simple technique offers support to the student and removes a bit of the attention that contributes to student fear.
Teach Students How to Be Good Audience Members (Friday)
Teach students how to respond to the speaker. Far too often, the role of the audience is omitted from instruction about public speaking. Teach your students to be quiet, to sit still, to look at the speaker, to smile when the speaker uses humor, and to nod at appropriate times. It can be frightening to stand in front of a peer group, but a receptive and warm audience can alleviate nervousness and contribute to a successful presentation. Evaluate your class as an audience as well as for their presentation skills.