As a teacher, you not only have to know the material you’re teaching and help your students understand it, but you also have to help them engage with the material. Getting students engaged in the learning process typically requires the ability to be an engaging presenter and speaker.
Most people don’t become teachers because they love public speaking, but it’s an essential skill for any educator. Being a great educator requires excellent delivery, so it’s always worth brushing up on your public speaking skills if you want to become a better educator overall.
Improving Your Public Speaking
Here are some tips for improving your confidence and skill when you’re speaking to the class.
See Yourself from the Class’s Perspective
One of the classic methods for improving public speaking skills is practising in front of a mirror. While this WILL feel awkward at first, it’s a great way to start seeing yourself from your class’s perspective.
Public speaking isn’t just about what you say. Your body language will also project how confident you feel and affect how your audience engages with you. Seeing yourself in the mirror will help you notice little things like your posture and how you fidget when you deliver information to your class.
Once you’ve practised in front of the mirror a few times, try setting up a tripod and filming yourself giving a lecture to an imaginary class. This will give you a chance to really analyze your performance and see where you lose confidence, fidget, or use filler words.
It can be very difficult to watch yourself on video, but nothing makes you a better speaker like practice combined with analysis. Filming yourself will allow you to find opportunities for improvement. You’ll also have a chance to see yourself improve if you repeat this exercise over and over again.
Watch the Masters
What sets the best educators apart from average teachers when they’re delivering a lecture? Watching engaging speakers will help you pick up helpful techniques that you can use to become a better speaker. Watching a TED Talk every day can be a great way to learn how delivery affects impact.
Use Storytelling Techniques
As humans, we are wired to respond to stories. If you want to hold your students’ attention, using storytelling techniques will help them engage with the material and remember what they learn. Whether you’re a seasoned educator or this is your first year of teaching, use stories to your advantage!
Practice Asking Questions and Leverage “Listening Tasks”
It’s easy for students to start tuning you out during a lecture, even if you’re presenting interesting material. One way to reduce student disengagement is to ask questions during your lesson and use “listening tasks,” like asking them to write down a question, fill out a handout, or use hand signals to communicate with you as you speak. Practice these techniques, and start to get a feel for how long your pauses should be.
Interactive Learning Can Take Some Pressure Off
It’s very important as an educator to work on your public speaking skills. But the good news for teachers is that interactive and collaborative learning is more engaging than just speaking in front of the class. Yes, you will need to deliver information in lecture form sometimes, whether you’re giving background or telling the class what they’ll be doing during the lesson.
However, if you try to focus the bulk of your lesson plan on interactive learning, students shouldn’t get restless or bored as easily.
Don’t Expect Perfection Right Away
As an educator, you know that learning is a process. You understand that your students will make mistakes and that it’s no reflection on their intelligence or talent. It’s important to extend that same understanding to yourself. Give yourself grace and realize that public speaking is a skill that takes time to develop.
Don’t expect perfection, especially right away. Give yourself time to become a better speaker, and practice often. Being the best teacher you can be is a process, and you just have to keep working at it!