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Cultivating confidence and calm when speaking to an audience is important for students and teachers alike. Public speaking ability can make the difference between a successful presentation and a throwaway, with only a few adjustments needed to tip the scale. Below are a few helpful tips for students and educators in honing the power of presentation skills.


Practice, practice, practice. Whether you take five minutes before a presentation to review your words or you run through your entire project the night before, a practice run can smooth out most wrinkles. In addition, the more practice students have throughout school in making presentations, the more prepared they will be to do so in their career. So students, thank that teacher that assigned you a presentation project: they really have your best interest in mind.

Understand stage fright. Mikael Cho, Educator and Public Speaker, helps individuals to understand and identify their stage fright in his TedEd video “The Science of Stage Fright (and How to Overcome It.)” In it, he explores how stage fright affects the body (sweaty palms, heart racing) and ways to move past this fear in order to successfully present in front of an audience.

The effect of enthusiasm. When someone conveys passion for or knowho about a subject, the energy of the presentation itself can inspire. One blog suggests transforming nervous energy into enthusiasm by listening to pump-up music before stepping in front of an audience, similar to how athletes prepare for a big game. Studies have shown that an enthusiastic speech can win out over an eloquent one, which means that a big smile and strong voice are a great place to start.


Know your audience. Teachers know that students receive information in different ways from adults; furthermore, a class early in the morning might interact with a presentation differently than a group late in the day. Age of the audience, timing of the presentation, along with many other factors, affect how an audience will react to information. Teachers who know their audience and tailor their presentation to meet their specific needs, are more successful in conveying their subject matter than teachers who do not.

Utilize verbal and nonverbal communication. What a teacher says is just as important as how they say it. Whether it is taking a power stance at the front of the room to exude confidence or modulating the tone, pitch, and speed of a speech, The Teaching Center offer tips on how teachers can influence how a presentation is received with small, but meaningful changes.

Help students help themselves. Teachers can help students strengthen their own oral communication and presentation skills by giving them opportunities throughout the school year to share, practice, present. The Edvocate provides a few suggestions on how teachers, especially those in K12/secondary education, can cultivate an atmosphere of confidence when it comes to public speaking in the classroom.

Whether in the classroom, in a boardroom, or simply in front of a group of friends, a capable public speaker has the power to change minds and move mountains. Now is the time to tap your potential and improve your presentation skills in 2018.

Additional Resources:

5 Public Speaking Tips from TEDxPortland Speaker Coach, Amy Wolff

8 Tips to Power up your Classroom Presentations

Teaching Presentation Skills: No More Lip Service