When I first walked into my AP US History class, I sat in the back and hoped to be invisible. I am not the outgoing person who raises their hand when a teacher ask for an answer. I am the one who goes into a classroom unseen, sits down and gets things done. The moment I heard Mr. Terrones explain how everyone in the class must “Stand up” when called on, terrified me. Public speaking makes me want to vomit, at least it did.
Once a week passed by, I saw how nervous everyone around me was, trembling as they stood up expressing their opinion on a question that was written on the board. I felt a sense of relief when I started to notice I wasn’t the only junior who feared public speaking. After a few days, when I got called on, I didn’t feel so tense or scared of talking in front of my peers because I knew I wasn’t the only one presenting.
The more I presented the more confident I felt. If it wasn’t for my teachers encouragement of public speaking, I would be the same kid that sat at the back of the classroom, afraid of getting my ideas or thoughts out there.
That feeling when you want to speak but there’s a knot in your throat, and you cannot say what you really want to say. Or how your voice starts to crack, and your knees start to tremble. This is caused by the fear of public speaking, when you just can’t seem to get your message out.
Public speaking in fact is the #1 fear of people all around the world. If high school teachers include public speaking into their academic curriculum, it would help students prepare for college. Teachers, lawyers, politicians, performers, and managers all rely on strong public speaking skills to do their work. Beyond that, any professional in an office or team setting will be expected to communicate professionally and confidently with those around them. Furthermore, public speaking skills also build a foundation of broader soft skills, such as confidence, poise, and composure. These skills can be applied to almost any professional setting, including those that don’t necessarily require any public speaking. There are a lot of advantages to learning how to communicate with peers and other people. Educators should incorporate and encourage more public speaking into their academic curriculum.
In college, public speaking is an essential skill. For example, being able to communicate with your teachers and able to resolve problems in a classroom setting requires public speaking. The skills built by public speaking are the same skills being used in college interviews. You will need to present a polished, articulate image of who you are and what matters most to you, often after having rehearsed some anticipated prompts. Ryann Hernandez, an educator from Chaffey College, states, “Majority of all my college courses requires discussion and public speaking. Communication classes are required to transfer which helps my peers become more comfortable talking to others. ” From Ryann Hernandez’s personal experience, public speaking is very common and is used in all her college courses. College students often report an increase in general confidence as well as a marked sense of achievement. This allows the students to not only succeed in their classes but also makes them even more confident in what they are doing. With more practice of public speaking in high school classrooms, comes more participation, following higher academic grades. Students are given the opportunity to express their opinions and to create connections with their peers allowing them to get more involved in their classroom. Furthermore, if educators incorporate more public speaking activities in their classrooms, students will benefit greatly and will be more prepared for when college comes around.
There are already tons to exercise that help you strengthen your ability to speak in front of others and to build your confidence. Some examples of extracurricular activities teachers should include in their teaching curriculum are speech, debates, mock trials, and performing arts. Speech and debates are often the first activities that come to mind when you think about advancing your public speaking abilities. In speech competitions, a presentation by a single, a pair, or sometimes even a group of students is judged against a similar presentation by other teams in a round of competition. In high school classrooms, you can debate almost any topic imaginable. In general, students in debates must work to understand both sides of a situation, researching each side extensively, and learning to think critically about every argument that could be made on each side. In mock trials, students enact a modified court trial, with each participant playing the role of someone in a court hearing. Through this activity, students gain experience with the function of the courts while exercising their critical thinking, decision making, and speaking skills in a competitive context. Students who participate in mock trial can expect to gain experience with logical reasoning, build confidence, and develop their ability to accept and use constructive criticism. Each of these skills easily translates into public speaking, and mock trial itself is composed almost entirely of students taking turns speaking before the group. Another way to build your public speaking skills is through participation in the performing arts. This includes anything from a theater or dramatic readings to poetry open mic nights. In theater performance, dramatic readings, or poetry readings, you generally study a script or written piece and then memorize it, before presenting it dramatically to an audience. Sometimes a student may be involved with putting on a whole play complete with costumes and sets, while other times you might be staging a brief dramatic reading. Whatever the case may be, you will still be practicing your public speaking skills and will prepare you for college and your future. By participating in the performing arts, you will continue to build the confidence and poise necessary to deliver a verbal message in front of a group. There are many activities that build public speaking skills. While Mock Trials, Speech, Debates, and the Performing Arts are certainly among the most obvious, any activity that includes an element of oral presentation is a great start. These will help you prepare for a broad variety of career paths and ensure that you’ll be ready for you college.
Glossophobia —the term used to distinguish that person who uncontrollably stutters and fearly shakes on stage during their 5 minute english presentation. Seventy five percent of the population suffers from glossophobia. That is over 238 million people who are scared to talk in front of others. The reason for this is due to hundreds of factors, most popular being insecurity, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. In the article, “Overcoming Internal Obstacles” by Michele P. LaMeau, states, “According to the human resources (HR) department of the University of California, Berkeley, people typically face more internal obstacles than external obstacles in the course of their working lives.” Public speaking can be extremely challenging for many people especially high school students. Students with anxiety find it impossible to stand up and to speak in front of a crowd of judging high school students. If high school educators involve everyone in activities that include participation and communication, students who fear being judged while standing on a high stage with a bright spotlight beaming into their eyes won’t feel so excluded from the rest of their classmates. They can feel a sense of equality because that person wouldn’t be the only one participating.
Overcoming the fear of public speaking doesn’t happen overnight. People shield themselves by either avoiding public speaking or by struggling against speech anxiety. In this way, people get tricked into making the fear of public speaking more chronic and disruptive. In the article, “How to Conquer the Fear of Public Speaking” , Theo Tsaousides states, “While fear teaches you to protect yourself in risky situations, letting that fear stand between you and your audience could prevent you from sharing inspiring ideas, speaking about important work, and presenting interesting solutions to problems that affect many people. In short, it’s everyone’s loss.” When the time comes when a student is given an assignment that includes speaking in front of a group, it can be horrifying for that person. That person shouldn’t feel frightened, instead, he or she should feel prepared and encouraged to do their best. If high school educators start to incorporate public speaking not only at the beginning of their teaching curriculum but throughout, it will have students well prepared for situations like these. Educators play an enormous role on how a student develops as a person. A teacher has the power to influence and shape their students into confident human beings and successful in life. If teachers include everyone in a classroom, students feel more connected and don’t feel left out. This makes students more familiar with communication and eventually relieve their tense fear of public speaking.