Edpuzzle Blog

Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff

Public speaking: two words that, according to statistics, strike fear into the hearts of almost 75% of the population, including in great part your students!

The topic of public speaking for students made some serious Twitter waves when The Atlantic published a 2018 article under the headline, “Teens Are Protesting In-Class Presentations”. The gist was that teenage students were pushing back against the requirement to give oral presentations, citing anxiety and stress as making the practice more harmful than beneficial.

The overwhelming response to the article was predictable, and the majority of tweets shared the same sentiment: the fact that students are afraid of giving presentations is exactly why they should be required to do them in the first place.

But why is public speaking such a necessary skill for 21st-century students? Curator of TED Talks, Chris Anderson, explains:

Presentation literacy isn’t an optional extra for the few. It’s a core skill for the twenty-first century. It’s the most impactful way to share who you are and what you care about. If you can learn to do it, your self-confidence will flourish, and you may be amazed at the beneficial impact it can have on your success in life, however you might choose to define that.

And as a core 21st-century skill, there’s no better ally for public speaking than technology tools. Read on to find out how to incorporate them in your classroom today.

Tip #1: Watch TED Talks to Check Out Best Practices

Speaking of TED, this is a great, low-stakes way to show off some amazing public speakers to your students, inspire them and get them fired up to give their own presentations!

The great thing about TED Talks is that you can find videos from some of the world’s most influential people and from students just like yours.

Check out this talk from Richard Turere, an African boy whose invention helped protect his family’s livestock from lion attacks:

Or this one from 11-year-old Adora Svitak titled “What adults can learn from kids”:

In addition to simply watching TED Talks together, you can also search for them via Edpuzzle, where you can add your own questions to encourage your students to reflect on the speakers’ techniques.

Tip #2: Podcasting & Flipgrid to Get Used to Speaking

Once your students have seen some examples of what a good presentation looks like, they’ll need to start getting comfortable with speaking out loud, and the only way to do that is with practice.

Student podcasting is a fantastic way to use technology to help put your students at ease with hearing the sound of their own voice, and since it’s audio only, it’s less nerve-wracking than a full-blown presentation.

Try setting a theme and letting your students choose their specific area of interest to podcast about, similar to doing a research paper but more dynamic! You can listen to them together as a class, or take it one step further and run the audio files through an online MP3>MP4 converter to then upload into Edpuzzle and add reflection questions.

Another low-pressure tech tool is Flipgrid, where students can record video responses to a question prompt, but don’t have the pressure of presenting live in front of the whole class.

Basically, the idea here is to introduce tech tools to your students that will help inch them closer to the idea of public speaking and for them to have fun in the process!

Tip #3: Find Tech Tools to Facilitate Your Presentation

Speaking of tech tools, there are a whole slew of them that go hand in hand with giving an in-class presentation. Check out these apps to help your students take their public speaking skills to the next level:

  • Ummo. This incredible app measures how often your students use filler words during a speech, such as “like”, “um” and “you know”. (Teachers – try using this when you’re delivering a lesson and you may be surprised at the results!)
  • Metronome app. This type of app is perfect for helping your students pace themselves. It measures their speaking rate, so they can tell when they’re speed up because of nervousness. Some examples include Pro Metronome or Metronome Beats.
  • Teleprompter app. Remember that moment when you were in school and you dropped your notecards? Make sure that never happens to your students by having them download a teleprompter app, like the PromptSmart Lite Teleprompter. It’s a fun way to help your students and make them feel like a real news anchor!
  • Timer app. Timing is everything in public speaking! Teach your students to keep track of their speaking time by using a timer app. The Toastmaster Timer app is a great one because it allows students to set the minimum and maximum time limits. Once the minimum time limit has passed, the screen turns green, as it nears the maximum time limit it’s yellow, and if they’ve gone overtime it turns red.

Have your students play around with these apps and decide which ones they want to use for future presentations!

Tip #4: Use Edpuzzle for Self-Critiques

In a great article on public speaking by Stacey Roshan, she delves into the importance of self-assessment after delivering a speech. One of the experts in the article states:

The self-critique allows a more thorough reflection on performance as students step back from the internal nerves and review the actual delivery. What effective changes in tone took place? Was the pace appropriate for the speech? Did their gestures enhance the delivery or distract from the message? Did they truly connect with their audience through eye contact, or did the speech get delivered to the floor?

When it comes time for your students to give their presentations in front of the class, set up a tripod and record them so that they’ll be able to watch themselves back.

Then, you can use Edpuzzle’s student project feature to have your students upload their own comments to the video, analyzing their performance. Here’s an example uploaded by Stacey of one of her students:

The degree of insight the students are able to gain from this exercise is priceless!

To end on some words of wisdom from the book TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson:

...public speaking is the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, sharing knowledge and insights, and promoting a shared dream.

Teach your students the skill of public speaking with a little help from technology, and you’ll be setting them up for a future of success.

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