Speak to Your Class with Confidence
by Ron Kurtus (revised 7 June 2012)
Have you ever had to speak in front your classperhaps to give a reportand you got real nervous? Perhaps you stammered, started to sweat and even started to shake.
Many students have this problem. In fact, the fear of speaking in front of a group is one of the worst fears people have. It even ranks above the fear of death (but not as great as the fear of snakes).
When I was in high school, I was terrified of speaking in front of the class. I would tremble and my mouth would fill with saliva. The only way I could effectively give a presentation was to sit in a chair when I was in front of the class. My English teacher frowned on this and thought I was just trying to be different or difficult.
I later learned to have confidence when speaking in front of a group. Sure, there was a little nervousness, but I still was able to speak without fear.
The ways to be able to speak to your class with confidence are to realize the purpose is no to impress other students, to rehearse and be well-prepared, and to start off by being in control.
Questions you may have include:
- What is the purpose of your speech?
- Why should you be well-prepared?
- How do you start off in control?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Remember your purpose
The purpose of giving a speech to your class is to satisfy an assignment by your teacher. It is not to impress other students with your knowledge and skills. Keep this in mind when you give your speech.
If presentation is to your Speech class
If the presentation is being made in a Speech class, the purpose of the assignment is to verify your skills in writing a certain type of speech on some subject, as well as showing your skills in presenting the material to an audience.
If presentation is to some other class
If the speech is in another class, the purpose is usually to show your teacher or instructor that you know and understand the material. The process of preparing for the speech is a way to help you learn the subject.
Goal is not to impress other students
One of the big fears students have in giving a speech to their class is that they might look foolish in front of the other students. Realize that your goal or purpose is not to impress the other students. Most of them want you to do a good job.
Your goal concerning the other students is to present the material in a manner that is clear and easy to understand. Thinking about making sure they understand you will take the pressure off from worrying about not impressing someone.
The most important thing in giving a talk to your class is to be well-prepared.
Know your subject matter
You should know your subject matter thoroughly before speaking on it. Since it is usually something you have just been studying, you should be able to answer questions from students who aren't as familiar with the subject as you.
Knowing the subject matter gives you a feeling of confidence before you give your talk.
Write out script
You need to write out your speech such that it is easy to read out loud. It is basically a script. Outlining the topic before writing the speech is a good idea.
Also, the material should be simple enough to remember. Too much information can cause you to forget things, as well as bore your audience.
Read it out loud in order to time the speech and to correct awkward words and phrases.
Rehearse your speech
Just as your favorite music group or actors in a movie or play rehearse, you too need to rehearse your performance. Musicians don't go in front of an audience without rehearsing. They practice their songs over and over again, so that they know them and feel they are ready to perform.
Rehearse in front of a mirror and then in front of a live audience. Practice your speech in front of your parents or friends. This will solidify the material in your mind and give you confidence in being able to do a good job.
Have a safety net
It is worthwhile to bring along a "security blanket" or "safety net" in case something goes wrong in your presentation. For example, have your speech outlined on 3 x 5 cards. This is a good backup in case you have a mental lapse. Referring to your notes is certainly acceptable to refresh your memory.
Of course, though, you should be prepared enough that you don't have to completely depend on your notes for your material.
Start off in control
When it is your turn to speak in front of the class, you want to start off positively and in control.
Take your time
Do not jump up, go to the front, and start speaking right away. This gets you in a rush and doesn't give the class time to pay attention. Instead, you want to be in control of the situation.
Take your time going up to the front. Before you speak, pause and count to ten to yourself. This gives your audience time to get settled and to pay attention to you.
Address the audience
Then, when you give your speech or presentation, begin with an introduction or salutation. It is often good to start off with something like:
"Mrs. XX and fellow students.... (look at your teacher and then look at some friend in the audience)
How many of you know about... YYY?
Right now, I am going to explain about that subject and give you some interesting examples."
Of course, you can elaborate more.
The idea is that your salutation (Mrs. XX...) gets everyone's attention. Then you ask a question concerning your subject that makes them curious and interested. Finally, you tell what you are going to talk about or explain before you get into your presentation.
A good start like this will put you in control and give you confidence to do a great job in your performance.
Aim speech at a friend
To minimize "butterflies" in your stomach, start by aiming the speech at a friend in the class, as if you are talking to him or her. Once you get going, you can then look around the class and address everyone.
Have a good attitude
In order to avoid worrying about looking stupid in front of your class is not to try to impress them. Instead, realize that many want to be entertained and most want you to do well.
If you forget something or make a mistake, don't try to correct it. Most of the class won't know that something was missing, so why bring attention to it?
If you are going to have to give talks in front of your class, why not feel confident about doing it? Then you can feel like a champion when you successfully complete the task.
Make an extra effort. The more you successfully do something, the more confidence you have that you can do it againeven better.
Not only do you want to be able to get through your ordeal of talking in front of your class, you want to be able to feel confident before you do it and like a champion when you are through.
Many students are afraid to speak in front of their class. You need to realize that the purpose of the speech is not to impress other students but to satisfy requirements from the teacher.
Rehearsing your speech in front of a live audience builds confidence and reduces the chances of making mistakes. Start your speech by taking your time and being in control.
Be confident, give a good speech, and feel like a champion
Resources and references
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Speak to Your Class with Confidence