Public speaking is an important part of the base curriculum for business and communication. Learning how to speak well in front of a group prepares students for future leadership roles. Public speaking skills include forming an effective message and relaying it to others. These skills can be practiced in class through a variety of activities designed to make students more comfortable and confident.
When speaking in public, it is not wise to memorize your message. Often memorized speeches sound mechanical, and you may lose your message because you forget a word and get flustered. The best way to speak to a crowd is to write down key words or phrases and speak about them. Prepare the class for key-word speaking by making up index cards with common words written on them. Go around the room and ask each student to draw one card and speak to the class, as much as they feel comfortable, about that word. For example, if a student chooses the word "dog," she may say "I had a dog when I was 5. Her name was Alicia. She was white with brown spots. She always slept in my room and never allowed my parents to come in." The students will see how easily they can speak without memorization and may even enjoy reactions from the class to their words.
Another class activity for public speaking is rehearsing focus-point interviews. A media relations professional usually has three to five points that he must make during an interview. These are the focus points. Whatever questions are asked, he should try to incorporate his points whenever it is appropriate. Have each student choose a debatable topic and come up with three focus points she wants to make to the audience. Have the rest of the class ask questions about the topic. The student should try to get her focus points out as many times as possible during the interview. Practicing this skill shows students how to lead an interview and hone in on a message.
How To Demonstration
Finally, students can put both their message skills and speaking skills together for a "how to" demonstration in front of the class. Ask each student to stand before the class and give a short demonstration on how to perform a simple task. Possible subjects include "How to change a diaper," "How to make a smoothie," or "How to French braid hair." Students have the activity to focus on, making them less nervous in front of a crowd. They also must be clear and concise to keep the audience interested and properly explain their task.
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