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212 Speech Topics For College Students [Persuasive, Informative, Impromptu]
Jim Peterson has over 20 years experience on speech writing. He wrote over 300 free speech topic ideas and how-to guides for any kind of public speaking and speech writing assignments at My Speech Class.
In this article:
For higher education, thesis statement examples.
List of Speech Topics For College Students
- How Schools Should Improve the Quality of Teaching.
- Why You Should Apply For International Exchange Programs.
- What to Do About Low Self-esteem?
- What You Can Do to Cut Poverty Rates.
- Refurbish your old computer PC!
- Seat belts in school buses increase passenger safety.
- Qualitative consumer market research give fundamental insight.
- Professors should never be allowed to crush a student’s dream.
- It is important for students to find organisations to get involved in.
- Students should take time to go visit their family and friends back home.
- Setting goals is important.
- Students must not be afraid to ask questions.
- Students shouldn’t be afraid to challenge a professor if they disagree with something.
- A study now and party later attitude should be adapted.
- Contrary to popular belief college kids do want their parents to fuss.
- Every college student needs a mentor.
- College students should start applying for jobs before they leave college.
- Students should spend more time enjoying their campus.
- It is important to be able to cook and do washing before starting college.
- Students need to make dorm check lists.
- Students should form study groups.
- Students should do extra credit.
- Students shouldn’t drink or smoke just because they want to fit in.
- Every student sharing a dorm or apartment should get themselves earplugs.
- Changing a major isn’t the end of the world.
- Students should make time to work out.
- Getting a job on campus is beneficial to a student.
- Students should write down questions that they need to ask the college tour guide.
- To get a true sense of what a college is really like students should visit while it’s in session.
- It is important to have study time scheduled into your day. Study time should be scheduled into a students day.
- A student’s syllabus is a wonderful tool that should be used to its full potential.
- Students should not be embarrassed to go see a tutor if they are struggling.
- Rewriting notes is a good way of reviewing study material.
- Students need to take breaks to do things other than just studying.
- Students should treat themselves to something they like at the end of very demanding weeks.
- Students should make use of student discounts.
- Being well organise will help students to avoid stress.
- The internet is full of great resources that are beneficial to students.
- Students can volunteer their way into scholarship money.
- Students should attend all the orientations available to them.
- Finding an ideal place to study is important.
- Academic advisers are key resources for students.
- When students don’t get along with their advisers they should request another.
- It is important that students have a balanced life.
- Never make hasty decisions on what to major in.
- Students should not procrastinate.
- Homesickness will affect even the students who could not wait to leave home.
- Students need to set up a budget and stick to it.
- Professors want students who want to learn, participate and show commitment to learning.
- Having a conversation with a classmate during class is an insult to the professor.
- Students should dress appropriately to class.
- Students should never turn in work that doesn’t follow their professors guidelines.
- It’s a good move to sit towards the front of the classroom.
- There should be a system in place to minimise students from dropping out of college.
- To save money students should make use of campus amenities.
- College students will need flip-flops in the bathroom.
- Students should visit their college counselling centre at least once a week.
- Students should take advantage of all the free activities on campus.
- Getting caught doing illegal things will be very bad for any college record.
- Students should register for classes as early as possible.
- Getting a job during the first semester isn’t a good idea.
- Study groups should be kept small.
- Students living in dorms should wash their hands often.
- College demands 100% effort.
- Parents shouldn’t yell at kids who no longer get straight A’s like they did before attending college.
- Students need to carry condoms with them at all times.
- Pregnancy shouldn’t be the end of a student’s college dream.
- Students need to realise that most people’s social media posts are exaggerated.
- High levels of pressure can lead to suicide.
- Students should never be told they are failures, even when they have failed.
- Virtual classroom will take over in future.
- Students who were raised by over controlling parents will have a hard time dealing with all the changes once they start college.
- Convincing a student to stay in college is very important.
- Long distant relationships do not work.
- Students should marry someone with the same level of education.
- Believing that everyone will mature in college is a myth.
- Students should always back up their files.
- Roommates need to have a good talk when they are having issues.
- Applying for a summer orientation position for incoming students will be good for a student.
- There is no need for a car in campus.
- Keeping a journal is a great idea.
- Going to career fairs is a smart move.
- Students should not over commit themselves just to look good on their resumes.
- It is important that students check their emails often.
- Becoming a Resident Assistant is a good idea.
- Libraries are a cool place to study.
- Freshman 15 is a real thing.
- Students should be careful about whom they borrow things to.
- Credit cards are not a good idea for college students.
- Shy students should attend a public speaking class.
- Students should take small classes with professors that write recommendations.
- A student should write a thesis even if they don’t need to.
- Opportunities to study abroad should always be accepted.
- College students should not go home every weekend.
- Internships are overrated.
- Students should take advantage of free tutoring.
- Most college friendships are temporary.
- Undergraduation does not mean you are not qualified for a succesful career.
- The majority of graduate students struggle with emotional fatigue.
- Legalizing prostitution will avoid campus date rape incidents.
- It is important for college students to take a Sabbatical.
- Every graduation student should obtain foreign experience.
- An online spell checker isn’t enough for your research paper essay.
- Censorship is needed in college and high school drama productions.
- Why you must sign the Student Pledge Against Gun Violence.
- Persuade the government to pay the basic healthcare of students.
- Do undercover FBI agents belong on campus?
College speech topics to attain indirect clues about themes intended to apply in higher learning presentations by little or less effort on the road to a successful presentation.
- Award or graduation ceremonies revealed from the backstage.
- How to become a cheerleader and transcend yourself to indispensability.
- Chemistry experiments and scientific breaktroughs.
- Horse racing and betting procedures – compare odds bookmakers.
- My plans for the future after I have completed this year:
- How spy sunglasses and airport bodyscans can see through clothes.
- Diving expeditions to shipwrecks that are buried on the ocean sand floor.
- Famous painters and paintings from the Golden Century.
- Favourite movie characters which are voiced by actors.
- Why meet and greet Asian people politely.
- Dining etiquette you must know for all occasions.
- Digital multitrack music recording works to compose top hits.
- Impress people at first sight – the psychology behind that adagium.
- What would you do if you should have an unexpected week off?
- What would you like to know more about.
- What is your favourite career field, something that make all the difference?
- Clothing styles and name brands for prom nights.
- Famous fashion or sports apparel designers – as seen on tennis tv shows.
- Your worst campus activities in the days your are off.
- Mountain biking is fun and earth-friendly they say, it is risky too.
- How I earn money with … (fill in a not ordinary student job)
- Enhance campus life in dorm rooms by nice pranks.
- Fashion trends this spring and summer, autumn and winter.
- Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle revealed.
- The hip-hop lifestyle is a no-life style.
- Dangers of a cyber relationship on shady late night moments.
- Start your own internet broadcast program in three steps.
- How to impress people at first sight.
- Ways to enhance campus life.
- The causes of the American civil war.
- How i prepared my trip to Europe.
- The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
- The Wonders of the Medieval World.
- The Natural Wonders of the World.
- The Wonders of the Modern Word.
- The Vikings Boats – The fighting fleet of prehistoric Scandinavia.
- The Samurai Warriors – Story of the Japanese military nobility.
- Bermuda Triangle – The haunted southeastern Atlantic coast area.
- Harry Houdini – The Great Illusionist and Magician.
- The most famous cities of the Maya culture.
- What are bar and bat Mitzvah.
- The travels of Marco Polo.
- What is an ISBN number and how it works.
- What is an eclipse.
- The secrets of crop circles.
- Yoga for beginners.
- 5 dangers of cyber relationships.
- The world’s time zones.
- How photosynthesis works in plants.
- Special tricks to remain focused during lectures.
- Sanction for students that are caught cheating around the world.
- Summer jobs for students.
- How our graduate system compares to other countries.
- Check list for leadership of student council members
- Graduation party ideas to impress your guests.
College speech topic inventory of logical action sequences for higher education students. All are broad and should be narrowed for a classroom speech. For example, Safe Sunbathing can be narrowed to persuasion on your personal tips on how to enjoy the sun safely on holidays.
Another sample: Homesickness. E.g. describe what it is, how it feels, what forms exist and what you can do about it yourself or with help from professionals.
Most and for all, read the higher education assignment rules and requirements very, very carefully. Do not take issues everyone will consider as overused.
Choose the one you like. When in doubt: ask friends or your public speaking professor.
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- College education years are absolute not the best years of our life
- Coping with anxiety in life
- Dealing with loss and mourning grief
- Honesty in college really matters
- How to communicate effectively at our campus
- How to cope with an autistic person
- The international diplomatic circus
- My motto: Learn from the past, prepare the future, and live present
- Limiting the promotion of alcohol diminishes traffic casualties
- My goals for the student council election
- The pros or cons of organ donating
- Safe sunbathing is a must in sunshine states
- Sports football vs. soccer, or other sports for another college speech topic
- Studying alone or studying with a group of college students?
- Why skipping classes can isolate a student socially.
- Ten rules for achieving successes
- Cheesy pickup lines you should not stick on your vehicle
- Funny awards and their meanings
- High Tech industry job opportunities
- Homesickness is not pose
- How to boost confidence in public speaking
- Handling your drunken roommate
- How to stay in touch with old college mates
- Money problems – this is a very hot college speech idea 🙂
- Problem drinkers and the problems that occur
- Human services in health care
- The Free Speech Movement
- Time management skills are no luxury these days
- What I will do when I retire
- Why movies are popular, or take one special movie that’s in and make a presentation of it.
The inventory can be expanded to many more. Here are three methods for developing:
- Look in the education resources you have access to for surprising new bare facts and background data sheets.
- And categorize the information in easy to do step by step instructions and logical educational action sequences.
- Ask college classmates and peers for their opinions, thoughts, ideas and needs on the chochosenllege speech topic.
These informative speech topics for college students are not only nice for preparing the best public speaking speech, but also for essay writing, I have noticed.
Some students who provide me feedback and additional tips, wrote that they have successfully adapted these five samples for writing and essay or paper.
The suggested sub-points are given to spark your imagination,; expand or focus them till they fit the requirements of the educational assignment.
Impromptu speech topics for college in case your are required to speak in front of everyone out of the blue about specific issues ad-libbing as public speaking training:
Second, use my basic outline template. Print it and learn the simple structure by heart. No worries, it is really that simple 🙂
Do keep it simple. Especially when you have to speak for let’s say a minute of three to five. To put it roughly: one minute per main point often will do the trick! Rehearse your first line.
Rehearse your last line; that is your relevant call to action. See more of my basic checks for speaking off the cuff when you are invited to do so.
- Show the essence of a college sports scholarship.
- Present the reasons why international climate change mitigation strategies will fall short. Tip: each of those reasons could be good by themselves.
- Decide the value of a BA or Master degree.
- Show similarities and differences of good college essays.
- Distinguish the economic differences between the North and South.
- Give a judgment of the positive and negative effects of video games on kids.
- Make clear what the word quality means under certain circumstances.
- Provide the detailed features of your new iPhone. Or take an alternative gadget for similar impromptu speech topics for college.
- List and judge the for and against of anti-doping programs in sports.
- List the steps to help making an informed decision about a future professional career.
- The usefulness of your public speaking training abilities.
- Make clear how and why people get a burnout.
- What is a final salary scheme in calculating retirement pensions?
- The value of information provided through school libraries.
- Why intelligence services must apply forms of domestic spying.
- The effects of industrialization after the invention of the steam engine.
- Teen girls are getting very liberal with sexual favors, no that’s a false understatement.
- Be a critic of impromptu speech topics for college of your public speaking instructor suggests.
- Wrap up the last meeting of your campus community board; any decisions taken for example about sports scholarships improvements?
- The interesting process of genetic reproductive cloning, by which an animal is created with the same DNA as an existing animal.
Speech topics for college students formulated as ready to go public speaking education thesis statements.
Just alter the sentences in the way you like it and there you are: you have your own personal slides and sheets writings for stirring the fire up somewhat and start a function or action based on the classic rhetorica essentials and oral hints for a higher education auditor.
Safety considerations related to school buses which operate under the supervision of the transportation authority boards.
Methods family genealogists use to research history and how they interpret data in an annotative critical perseverance way.
These are also very usable for starting up the thinking process for example essay writing and researching projects
- Mass vaccination is a good public health strategy for protecting people in potential disaster regions against cholera. Or of course choose other diseases to get stringent in content speech topics if you study for gaining a degree in a specific area.
- The concerns raised by the refurbishing of old computer PCs and recycling other consumer electronics.
- Sedation could be a humanitarian solution for transporting acutely or critically ill patients and diminish safety risk issues on the way to hospital.
- How a financial planner can identify those estate planning issues that are most forthcoming to you, and how you can solve many of the financial problems encountered.
- I have also grouped and explained the famous travels of Marco Polo in three periods for vocal expressions if you like to orate on a great adventurer of centuries ago.
- Consumer market research is an inevitable instrument to collect exact or valuable haphazard speech topics for college students data before you sell any goods.
- How the seventeenth century judicial system of Checks and Balances is constituated in the US Constitution based on the hypothesis and theories of the father of the modern state structures, the honorable French politician Charles de Montesquieu.
- Persons who are following a 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grades course and who are gifted and talented should be provided with special education funds for high-achieving pupils, like the tropicana program for public speaking education.
- Common emotional problems with wills and trusts and ways to handle them adequately.
- There should be one uniform standard set of higher learning edu challenges in closing commencement rates with the same characteristics for similar bookworm populations.
- Employees have the responsibility to prevent sexual harassment, to response appropriate, and participate in misconduct investigations.
- The importance for college students, teachers, and instructors of improving social studies knowledge of controversial civic issues.
- You can distillate many college persuasive speech topics out of this topic for public speaking. Map out the food gap between developing and rich countries; the trends over time and how the United Nations Millenium Goal policy could cut poverty rates.
- The labor force population explained. The employed, unemployed and self-employed put into the context of the labor policy of our government. The problems, causes and possible solutions.
- How emerging India has become a serious international space competitive in the past years, and future topics related to India’s space race in the next decade.
- Why bilingual language education divides us Americans. Some persuasive speech topics for school to consider for public speaking students are: why every new citizen should learn both English and Spanish, or just another universal foreign language.
- Five ways to help the partially sighted or blind; visually impaired people in ordinairy life. Motivate your public speaking audience to act immediately!
- The National holidays other countries around the world celebrate with various names, traditions and cultures. Why do we have so much national holidays. Take some discutable ones and translate them into college persuasive speech topics.
- Husbands and wives should have the right to decide freely to have as many children as they can properly raise. The one-child policy in the People’s Republic of China is not acceptable for us in the Western Hemisphere? Or is it the only way to stop overpopulation?
- The goals of the science of Paleontology – what do students want to achieve with the studying of prehistoric life, olds stines and fossils. Are they sufficiently enough?
- Why we should help to prevent and to improve therapeutic treatment methods and extensive educational programs on stuttering. Do the existing methods work?
- The basics of risk management explained in detail – the determination, the prevention, and the control of dangers.
- Human body language is the one and only Cupido guide to success in dating; it reveals everything about her or him and of course about yourself.
- How to cut the expensive costs of dorm fees, books, food and transportation and have a good and relaxed campus life as well. Wow, these are real speech topics for college – it paves the path to many more supplements.
- Why a professional business and management liability insurance is not a luxury, but an essential need for each and every company.
- What every employee should know about earn gratuities and the related regulations and obligations under the Income Tax Act.
- Why we should buy an IPhone and why not – the pros and cons of the Apple invention explained for mobile phone dummies.
- Why so-called Pro Bono Lawyers are not philanthropically legal aid attorneys for charity. How they work on deductive premises – bring home the steps in the legal process – is an alternative option to work out.
- Human Papillomavirus and Chlamydia are the most common bacterial sexually transmitted diseases at college campuses and therefore actual public speaking speech topics for college students to deliver in class.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning or the silent assassin that can build up to dangerous levels while you are sleeping – describe the causes, the problems, the treatment and how it can be prevented.
- Stop the state and federal budget cuts to the deaf access programs and services for persons with a hearing disability. Or take other disability programs to make a personal and political statement.
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11 Public Speaking Skills For Students
Table of Contents
In the 21st century, public speaking skills are more important than ever. With the rise of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, the ability to communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively is a valuable asset in both our personal and professional lives.
For students, developing strong public speaking skills can be particularly beneficial. Not only will it help them to better express themselves in class and on assignments, but it will also give them the confidence to participate more fully in group activities and discussions.
What is Public Speaking Skill?
Public speaking is the process and act of communicating information to a live audience. It involves many different elements, such as voice projection, stage presence, and the ability to engage with an audience.
Public speaking is usually done before a group of people with the intention of informing, persuading, or entertaining them (depending on the purpose of the speech). Some people think that it is only about giving speeches in front of an audience. However, public speaking can also refer to presenting in a meeting, delivering a report to your boss, or teaching a class.
Mastering public speaking skills can take time and practice, but it is ultimately rewarding. When you have public speaking skills, you will be able to confidently deliver speeches that make an impact. Whether you’re speaking to a small group or a large audience, your public speaking skills will help you to communicate effectively and get your message across.
The purpose of public speaking can be divided into four main categories:
- To Inform: The primary purpose of this type of speech is to provide information to the audience. For example, a speech about the history of the textile industry would be classified as an informative speech.
- To Persuade: The main purpose of this type of speech is to convince the audience to see things from your point of view. For example, a speech urging people to vote for a certain candidate would be classified as a persuasive speech.
- To Entertain: The purpose of this type of speech is to entertain the audience. For example, a stand-up comedy routine would be classified as an entertaining speech.
- To Commemorate: To honour or remember someone or something is the purpose of this type of speech. For example, a speech commemorating the life of a deceased loved one would be classified as a commemorative speech.
Different Types of Public Speaking
There are four main types of public speaking:
- Impromptu Speeches: These are speeches that are given with little to no preparation. The speaker is typically given a topic to speak on and then has to come up with their speech on the spot.
- Extemporaneous Speeches: These are speeches that are prepared in advance, but the speaker does not memorize their speech. The speaker will typically have notes or an outline to help them during their delivery.
- Memorized Speeches: These are speeches that are memorized verbatim. The speaker will typically spend a lot of time preparing and memorizing their speech so that they can deliver it perfectly.
- Interpretive Speeches: These are speeches where the speaker interprets a piece of literature, such as a poem or short story. The interpretation can be done through acting, storytelling, or simply reading the piece aloud.
Benefits of Public Speaking
People may think that public speaking is only beneficial for those who are natural-born leaders or extroverts. However, this is not the case! There are many benefits of public speaking that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of personality type.
Some of the benefits of public speaking include:
- Improved Communication Skills: Public speaking can help you to better communicate your ideas and thoughts to others. This is because when you give a speech, you have to be clear and concise in your delivery.
- Increased Confidence: Public speaking can help to boost your confidence levels. This is because when you give a speech, you are in control of the situation and the audience.
- Improved Leadership Skills: Public speaking can help you to develop your leadership skills. This is because when you give a speech, you have to be able to captivate and motivate your audience.
- Improved Organizational Skills: Public speaking can help you to better organize your thoughts and ideas. This is because when you give a speech, you have to be able to structure your thoughts in a way that is easy for the audience to follow.
There are a few key things to remember when it comes to public speaking. First, it’s important to be prepared. This means knowing your material inside and out. It also means having a clear understanding of your audience and what they’re looking for. Second, it’s important to be confident. When you’re confident in your abilities, it will show in your delivery. Third, it’s important to be engaging. This means being able to keep your audience’s attention and getting them involved in what you’re saying. Lastly, it’s important to be flexible. This means being able to adapt to different situations and audiences.
The Importance of Public Speaking for Students
Every student should develop public speaking skills for their future success. Public speaking is a critical skill for success in any field, and developing these skills early will give students a significant advantage. It allows them to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively and can help them to build confidence in their abilities.
There are many opportunities for students to practice public speaking, such as through school assemblies, presentations, debating clubs and drama groups. By taking part in these activities, students can develop their skills and confidence in front of an audience. With dedicated practice and perseverance, any student can become a confident and successful public speaker.
Also Read: 31 Miracle Morning Affirmations for Success
Here are 11 Public Speaking Skills That Every Student Should Develop:
1. confidence .
The first step to becoming a great public speaker is developing confidence in your abilities. Confidence is essentially a feeling of self-assurance. It’s the belief that you can achieve your goals, regardless of the obstacles in your way. When it comes to public speaking, confidence is about more than just having faith in your ability to deliver a great speech. It’s also about believing that you have something valuable to say—something that your audience needs to hear. Developing confidence as a public speaker takes time and practice.
2. Eye Contact
Eye contact is an important public speaking skill. By maintaining eye contact with your audience, you appear confident and sincere. It also helps to keep your audience engaged and focused on what you’re saying. Additionally, eye contact can help to build rapport and trust with your audience. If you seem disinterested or distracted, your audience is likely to lose interest as well. So next time you’re giving a presentation or speech, make sure to keep those eyeballs locked in!
3. Vocal Variety
If you want to keep your audience’s attention, it’s important to use vocal variety when you’re speaking. This means varying the volume, pitch and pace of your voice to keep things interesting.
Vocal variety is important in public speaking for a few reasons. For one, it helps to keep the audience engaged. If a speaker monotones their way through a presentation, it becomes very easy for listeners to tune out. By changing the pitch, volume, and rate of their voice, a speaker can more effectively hold their audience’s attention. Additionally, vocal variety can help to convey emotion and emphasis. A well-chosen word can have far more impact when spoken with feeling than when delivered in a flat, monotone voice. Finally, vocal variety simply sounds better than speaking in a single monotone. Public speaking is an auditory experience, and varied vocal delivery makes for a more pleasant and engaging listening experience.
Gestures are an important part of public speaking. They can help to emphasize a point, convey emotion, and add interest to a presentation. When used effectively, gestures can help to engage the audience and make a public speaker more dynamic and engaging. However, it is important to use gestures sparingly and deliberately. Too many gestures can be distracting and make a public speaker appear nervous or uncomfortable. It is also important to be aware of the nonverbal messages that gestures can send. For example, crossing one’s arms can convey defensiveness or hostility. Therefore, it is important to use gestures thoughtfully and only when they will genuinely add to a public speaking engagement.
Who doesn’t love a good story? Whether you’re giving a presentation at work or delivering a speech at a wedding, being able to weave a tale is a valuable public speaking skill. A good story can engage your audience, help them to understand your message, and make your talk more memorable. When choosing a story to share, look for one that is relevant to your topic and that will resonate with your audience. Once you have a story in mind, take some time to rehearse it so that you can tell it in a way that is natural and engaging. With a little practice, you’ll be surprised at how much difference storytelling can make to your public speaking.
Brevity is the art of saying what you need to say in the fewest possible words. It’s about making every word count. And it’s an essential public speaking skill. When you’re speaking in public, you don’t have time to waste. You need to get your point across quickly and efficiently. That’s why it’s important to be concise. When you’re concise, you’re focused and deliberate. You’re not rambling or going off on tangents. You’re clear and to the point.
Conciseness is important because it keeps your audience engaged and focused on what you’re saying. It also makes you more credible and trustworthy. If you can say what you need to say in a few words, your audience will respect you for it.
A little bit of humour can go a long way in making your presentation more enjoyable for both you and your audience. Just be careful not to overdo it and always err on the side of tastefulness.
If you’re passionate about what you’re saying, it will come through in your delivery and engage your audience. So, if you’re not excited about your topic, it might be time to choose a different one.
As the old saying goes, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Preparedness is key when it comes to public speaking. You should always have a clear understanding of what you want to say before taking the stage. This means knowing your material inside and out and being able to anticipate questions or rebuttals from your audience.
For example, if you want to give a great presentation, you need to put in the time and effort to properly prepare for it. This means having a well-thought-out plan and knowing everything that needs to be said.
Whether you’re giving a presentation at work or delivering a speech at a public event, practice is the key to success. By taking the time to prepare and rehearse your remarks, you’ll be able to speak with confidence and engage your audience. In addition, practice will also help you to overcome any nervousness or anxiety about public speaking.
So if you want to improve your public speaking skills, remember that practice makes perfect. The more you rehearse, the more confident you’ll feel when it’s time to take the stage.
Public speaking is a skill that is often underrated. Many people believe that as long as they have something interesting to say, their audience will be captivated. However, the reality is that public speaking is about much more than the words you say. It’s also about how you say them. Your tone, your body language, and your posture all play a role in how your audience perceives you. And of all of these factors, posture is perhaps the most important.
When you stand up straight, you project confidence. You convey to your audience that you are comfortable with yourself and with what you’re saying. On the other hand, if you slouch or fidget, you appear nervous and unsure. Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a good posture when speaking.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great public speaker. Just remember that confidence is key and practice makes perfect. So, don’t be afraid to get out there and give it your best shot!
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25 Interesting Public Speaking Topics For Students
Looking for public speaking topics for students but have no idea how you can choose the best options for you? We have got you covered and brought forth the most interesting topics for public speaking. All these topics are pertinent to the current scenario, and hence you can make sure that the students do not have any problems when you give these topics to the students.
The public speaking topics that we will be providing to you can be used in any language that you want. The topics are best suited if you have any upcoming school or institution-based competition to perform in.
Best Topics for Speech
25 Interesting Public Speaking Topics for Students
We would love to outline not only the 25 best topics for English speech but also topics for discussion, which can be used in other languages as well.
- Express Your Views on the Changing Patterns of Globalisation - This topic for extempore requires you to speak on how the structure of globalisation is changing.
- Is Global Warming A Myth? - It is one of the most valid presentation topics for students and requires them to talk about how global warming affects us.
- How Does The Pandemic Become Detrimental For Mental Health? - Speak in detail about how to COVID-19 pandemic has affected us mentally and bogged us down.
- Do You Think That Real Wealth Cannot Be Counted Only With Money? - A Holistic topic where you should talk about more than just money as your wealth.
- Does The Popularity of Junk Food Lie On The Able Marketing? - Junk food is indeed very popular and a part of our daily life, but do you think it is the marketing responsible for such popularity?
- Does Artificial Intelligence Come At Par With Human Intelligence? - Explain your take on if artificial intelligence is anywhere compared to human intelligence.
- Perils of Being A Mother- The Real Culture Biased Concern. - Is being a mother as blissful as it seems, or do the perils come into the picture? Explain.
- Is Indian Classical Music Gradually Coming to An End? - Talk about your perspective on whether the domain of Indian classical music is being overshadowed by the advent of western music and pop culture.
- Should We Ban The Testing Of Products On Animals? - As animal activists make it a grave issue, should we stop the testing of products on animals? Elucidate.
- Was The Pandemic The Biggest Business Strategy of the Millennium? - Do the controversial theories have a tinge of truth, and was the pandemic a big business?
- America and Its Contribution To The Current Globalisation of the World. - Explain how America has single-handedly been the face of globalisation for most countries worldwide.
- Schools and Their Contribution To The Holistic Development of the Students. - How does a school contribute to the overall growth of the students?
Book Free Trial Class
- Animals and Their Innate Contribution to the Biodiversity of the World. - Talk about how animals have been a very important part of the biodiversity we survive in.
- Is Senior Community Living The New Resolution for the Senior Members? - Talk about whether the senior citizen living is now an accepted norm of our culture.
- It's Time That We Move Past the Stigma of Mental Health. - Do you think it is high time we start recognizing the importance of Mental Health?
- Extra-Marital Affairs Has Become the New Norm For Married Couples. - Has modernization impacted the relationship shared between married couples as well- Share your viewpoint?
- Legalizing LSD for Pain Relief is Important in A Country Like India. - Do you think it is okay that we in India legalize LSD just like foreign countries?
- Study Does Not Have Any Age and Preferences. - Is it okay for people to restart their studies even after a considerable period of the gap- what are your viewpoints?
- Being A Corporate Enslaved Person Is Made More Derogatory Than The Normal. - Do you think that we love criticizing the workforce no matter what the condition is?
- Is being a Good Student Overrated? - Do you think that merit no longer has its perk and being a good student is not required anymore?
- The Harsh Reality of Students Choosing Friends Over Parents. - What are your viewpoints on children who prefer taking advice more from friends than from parents?
- Does Love Mean Compromising One's Self Esteem? - Do you think it is okay to give up one's respect for the loved one?
- How Does Veganism Benefit or Disturb The Food Chain? - What are your takes on the effects of veganism, and does it benefit anyone?
- Can We Blame China Alone For the Spread of the Coronavirus Pandemic? - Talk about whether the role of china in the spread of the pandemic has been blown out of proportion.
These topics can be used for any school student and are best suited as extempore topics for classes 9, 10, 11 and 12.
If you want to excel in public speaking, there are tons of options and, specifically, quite a few good online speaking classes. We are one among the popular online public speaking class providers in the country. We at Kafqa Academy, have experienced instructors who help each student overcome the fear of public speaking and adopt this skill to speak confidently in front of a crowd.
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Grow Your Public Speaking Confidence: Tips For College Students
My name is Natalie Nation. I’m a grad student, future RD, educator, content creator, and mac and cheese expert! I love talking about college student issues to help YOU become more successful, confident and happy as a college student.
Be sure to follow me on INSTAGRAM and subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel.
Today, I’m sharing my best tips to help you grow your public speaking confidence!
I LOVE Public Speaking!
Anyone who has met me KNOWS that I love public speaking! But I didn’t always.
I used to be scared of public speaking, and I know a lot of college students who would rather write a 10 page paper than give a 10 minute speech.
Here’s the truth.
The ability to educate, present, and motivate through public speaking is an incredible tool for college students to develop and use throughout their time in school.
Being a confident public speaker can also open the doors for unique opportunities out in the real world and definitely looks AMAZING on your resume and cover letter.
Whether you’re presenting in class, leading a club meeting, or persuading student government to fund your conference fee, there will always be opportunities in college where public speaking will benefit you!
The best thing about college is that you are a STUDENT and you get to learn and grow and practice and make mistakes without fear. Everyone around you is learning too!
Public speaking is intimidating–but so are you!
That statistic where people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy? It’s so real! Public speaking can be intimidating. But YOU (yes, you!) can be intimidating, too!
When you speak, YOU are the expert. You might not always feel that way, but if you’re presenting on cell biology of a sea anemone (or whatever it happens to be), you’re the one who has put in the time to learn, to research, to put together a presentation, and you know the most.
Do you need to nail 100% of your presentation? NO! It can feel good, sure, but perfection is not necessary. You can (and you will!) make mistakes, but that is not important. Everyone makes mistakes.
Your confidence is the most critical piece of your presentation. Not your content, not your perfectly memorized script (more on that later), your CONFIDENCE.
I want to let you in on a secret.
In college, people want you to succeed .
Yes, you! They don’t want to see you fail. They don’t want to see you embarrassed. Your classmates, professors, mentors, club mates; they ALL want you to succeed just as much as you do.
Practice creates potential
Obviously, it’s going to be much harder to nail that pitch, speech, proposal, or presentation without practice. Remember, it’s not about perfection.
The purpose of practicing is to give you the potential to nail your presentation. Every minute you spend practicing sets you up to succeed.
So let’s practice smarter, not harder.
- Create an outline or bullet points . Make sure you know what you want to say. Write it out on a separate piece of paper or word document. Make sure you have an introduction, you clearly state your purpose or objectives (if relevant), and outline the main points that you want your audience to know.
- Practice talking about those bullet points . With each of your bullet points, figure out how to elaborate on those points. That’s the “meat” of your presentation–what are you teaching, and why is it important? Take some time by yourself to say these things out loud. Get comfortable saying whatever you want to say out loud.
- Don’t memorize–internalize. It can be easy to write out your entire script in the powerpoint notes and try to memorize it. But the problem with memorizing is that you will sound scripted and disconnected from your audience, not to mention, if you forget, you’ll be scrambling to “find your place”. Instead, internalize your talking points, but become comfortable with different sentences and different phrasing so that you can shift comfortably from topic to topic without relying on a script.
- Present to another person . Practice giving your entire speech to another person. This can be a roommate, classmate, sibling, friend–whoever it is, sit them down, stand in front of them, and run through your ENTIRE presentation from start to finish. Don’t get stuck in embarrassment or fear of judgement. Remember, people WANT you to succeed, so take yourself SERIOUSLY and use this time as a dress rehearsal. Ask your friend for real feedback too, don’t let them slide with just “good job!”
Day of: You’ve Got This!
The best thing you can do on the day of your speech or presentation is to plan your day to be calm and easy–get enough sleep the night before, eat a good breakfast, leave yourself plenty of time to get ready and practice if you need, and take some down time if you can.
Then, put on your favorite business casual outfit. I tend to fidget with my clothing, so I avoid outfits with fringe, ties or strings, or anything that needs constant adjusting.
Once you arrive at the conference room, classroom, auditorium, or wherever you will be public speaking, it’s GO time. At this point, you’ve prepared yourself as best you can. You might still be quaking in your (adorable, business casual) boots, but you’re nearly there!
Always take the time to introduce yourself and your topic clearly and professionally. It doesn’t matter if you are presenting to a class of your best friends or a room full of strangers, this is a 10 second way to immediately show just how confident you are.
Which of these introductions sounds better?
“Hey, uh, I’m Natalie, and my topic is Parkinson’s disease,”
“Hello everyone. My name is Natalie Nation, and today I will be presenting on medical nutrition therapy for the treatment of motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease,”
Need I say more?
Two more things that will instantly make you sound more confident, whether or not you feel that way, is to SPEAK UP and to SLOW DOWN.
Speak loudly enough that everyone can hear you, and then turn up your voice volume one or two more notches.
People tend to want to speak more softly when presenting. It can be intimidating to know that EVERYONE can hear you.
But that’s the point! You are the expert, and you want people to hear what you have to say.
Once you’ve turned your volume up, slow down. Slow it way down. You will always speak faster than you think you are, so it’s important to consciously force yourself to slow down.
Slowing down will help people to understand you better, but it will also give you the time to really think about what you are saying and to prepare for what is coming next.
Maybe your embedded YouTube video doesn’t play.
Maybe you lose your place and have a brain fart.
Maybe you mispronounce a word.
These things happen, and it’s okay. Remember, you’re in college, a place of learning and growing. Part of that process is knowing that it’s okay not to be perfect.
The key to mastering mistakes is moving on with confidence.
If your video doesn’t play, try saying “Thanks for your patience.” instead of “Sorry, I didn’t practice this.”
If you mispronounce a word, try saying “Excuse me, I meant _____.” instead of “Sorry, my bad.”
If you forget your place, try saying “Please give me a moment to collect my thoughts.” instead of “Sorry, I’m nervous.”
Notice a theme here?
Moving on from your mistakes does NOT mean you need to apologize. If it’s an accident or something out of your control, that’s no reason to say sorry, because it wasn’t your fault.
No excuses or apologies are needed, just acknowledge the mistake briefly and move on.
Public Speaking Anxiety is REAL
It is 100% possible to be both incredibly nervous and still be confident as a public speaker. Before I prepare for a speech, my heart starts RACING, even though I know that I’ve prepared myself to succeed.
Everyone has their own tricks for dealing with stage fright. I usually tell myself that I don’t have time to be nervous before the speech, but that I’m allowed to be nervous about it later.
Mostly successful for me? Also, yes!
You do what works for you! Plant a friend in the audience, wear your favorite shirt, take 10 deep breaths, whatever it takes.
Something that not a lot of people talk about is this: Public speaking nerves are incredibly common, but for people with anxiety disorders, these nerves can be escalated into other symptoms–insomnia, panic attacks, etc.,–that can truly impact your ability to be successful in the classroom.
You are deserving of the opportunity to succeed, and there is no shame in asking for help or needing accommodations to make that happen.
Speak to your professor about accommodations that can be made for you, or approach your disability resources center to get documentation in place.
Students with documented anxiety are eligible for classroom accommodations that allow them to be successful as a student without exacerbating their mental illness.
These accommodations might include presenting to the professor alone or with a smaller audience of friends, or handing in a different assignment in place of a presentation. Take advantage of these accommodations if you need them.
It takes TIME to build public speaking confidence.
It took me months to be able to film a YouTube video without pausing every 5 seconds to look at my script, and my heart still races before I stand up to present in class, and I blush BRIGHT RED like nobody’s business when I talk. NBD though, because I set myself up for success and I know that being nervous doesn’t mean that I won’t do a good job.
But with time, and practice, and probably some mistakes along the way, you can build your public speaking skills and confidence! You will get there!
Check out THIS video, where I talk even more tips and tricks for public speakers!
GROW YOUR PUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS: My Best Tips and Tricks! Public speaking is the #1 most common fear. For most college students, presentations and speeches …
Minnesota-based grad student, future RD, educator, content creator, and mac and cheese expert! Natalie is currently a Masters of Public Health student and dietetic intern at the University of Minnesota, and is on-track to becoming a registered dietitian-nutritionist. She earned her bachelor's degree in Dietetics in 2019 from St. Catherine University.
Great post! I use many of these tips whenever I have to give presentations for work, worth the read!
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List of Public Speaking Topics and Ideas for Students
If your ward has ever been asked to deliver a public speech, you might know what public speaking means. But have you ever thought about the importance of public speaking for students? According to Cambridge IGCSE , public speaking is crucial for students to represent themselves in the public arena.
Today, this article will cover the most commendable public speaking topics for students. And while you progress further, you will uncover some of the finest tips on public speaking for students. Please stay tuned until the end to make an informed decision, and help your ward become a better public speaker.
Let's get started.
What is Public Speaking?
In layman's terms, public speaking is presenting a topic live before an audience. The goal of the speech can vary, which can be to educate, entertain, or influence a certain group of people. You need to understand that public speaking is different from an online presence. You can add your public speaking with visuals or audio to make it more interesting.
It would be best to consider several things while public speaking, including your appearance, body language, gesture, speaking patterns, and many more. The skill can be more fluent and advanced if you practice it from elementary school. If you are looking for public speaking topics for elementary students, you must keep reading this blog.
History of Public Speaking
Public speaking has been practiced from the start of society, where some people lead a group and start living in one location. Public speaking was an effective way to direct and lead a large gathering. In Greek history, people used public speaking to pursue or praise others. And there, the need to develop public speaking was noticed. Public speaking was called rhetoric in the Greek time.
They noticed people with excellent public speaking skills getting what they wanted and succeeding in pursuing people. All the great leaders were excellent public speakers.
Public Speaking Examples for Students
The most effective way to indulge students in their subject of interest is public speaking. They need to go through thorough research on the topic and present it to the audience. And the process helps them to learn about the topic in greater depth. Many useful topics can be used to improve students' excellence. Some of the most effective Public speaking examples for students are given below,
● Factual Persuasive speech
● Value persuasive speech
● Policy Persuasive Speech
Importance of Public Speaking for Students
The importance of public speaking is more than one can think. Many people need to be made aware of the capability of a student to be drawn by this practice. Public speaking has played an important role over the years in education, Government, and business. Also, in the entertainment area, public speaking is important. It helps improve your confidence, boost your self-esteem and make you a leader. Let's learn about the benefits of public speaking for students.
Benefits of Public Speaking for Students?
There are many benefits of public speaking for students. It helps them to grow as exceptional figures in society. This skill helps build a leader's character and confidence to face any life challenges. Some of the benefits of public speaking are written below.
Students who practice public speaking from their elementary level will be more confident about themselves. Public speaking boosts confidence levels.
Improves Social Skills
The students can gain more social skills and learn adequate skills to socialize with their friends and teacher properly.
Improves Communication Skills
A great way to improve communication skills is through public speaking. One needs to be clear in speech delivery for public speaking. Also, they need to adjust their body language to be a better public speaker. It helps them to be a better communicator.
Develops Research Skills
To properly present a topic, students need to research the topic thoroughly. This practice helps them to be great researchers. When they improve certain techniques for research, it will help them in future. This skill can be honed by practicing from an early age, so middle schools are the best place to practice public speaking. Many public speaking topics for middle schoolers can be found in this blog.
Develops the Deductive Skills
It helps to improve the deductive skills of the students. The speech topics for primary students help them to strategize their presentations and improve their deductive skills.
Boosts Self Esteem
Many speech competition topics for students help to boost their self-esteem. They learn more, and can confidently present their thoughts in front of their peers and teachers.
Helps to Build a Strong Character
Public speaking is a great practice for developing a strong character. They get to analyze a topic, frame sentences to convey their thoughts, and present the same in front of their classmates. Such logical thinking shapes the person’s character.
Helps in Marketing
Research and presentation is important in the marketing industry. Public speaking can help students to excel in marketing as they become good at presenting their opinions and thoughts lucidly in front of the target audience.
Improves the Chance of Getting Hired
With public speaking skills, students will communicate better and present impromptu topics. These skills will increase their chance of getting hired.
Makes Students Popular Among the Peers
Public speaking makes students popular among their peers. Classmates would look up to them when they need help in debates, elocutions, or speeches.
Develops Better Writing Skills
Lastly, it helps to improve better writing skills. Students learn to put their thoughts on a particular topic in a logical order, so that it is a smooth flowing narrative from start to end.
How to Become Better at Public Speaking
To become a better public speaker, you need to follow some tips that are written below.
Research the Topic
First you need to research the topic and collect all the related information about it. You can use e-books or other authentic sources for that.
Know the Target Audience
You need to know the audience you are speaking to. You may need to know their age range and their background. This will help you to make the speech effective.
Outline the Topic
You need to make a rough outline that includes all the sub-points you will be discussing. This outline will narrow down the topic specifically.
Write an Effective Speech
Now you need to take all the researched information and write it according to the outline you made.
Make it Brief and Interesting
It would be best if you made the speech brief and interesting. Use infographics or images for the presentation.
Now practice the speech and try to complete it without making any mess. Also, you need to complete the speech within the time period.
It may be unexpected compared to the small room where you practice. But take a deep breath and start with a smile and introduction. After you catch the flow, it will be easy.
List of Public Speaking Topics for Students
The topic for any public speaking can be developed depending on the themes. Here are some of the best public speaking topics for students.
Topics for public speaking offered by the Best international school in Malaysia :
Education Speech Topics
Education is a central theme for any public speaking activity. Some of the Education speech topics are such,
● Important of Education
● Education System
● Girl's education
● Homeschooling is better than normal schooling
● Importance of value education
● Importance of sports and physical exercises
● Consequences of cheating in exams.
Science Speech Topics
Providing some of the best Science speech topics below,
● A scientific and ethical perspective on the developments of human cloning
● Achievements of Albert einstein
● Contribution of Charles darwin to science
● Existence of Black Hole
● The theory of the Big Bang
● Technological revolution
● Latest inventions
Society Speech Topics
Here are some Society speech topics,
● What is the ethical standpoint for abortion?
● Why are stereotypes harmful?
● Should a prisoner be able to vote?
● Is Social Darwinism true?
● Public toilets should be cleaner.
● The danger of propaganda
● The importance of preventing cyberbullying
Environmental Persuasive Speech Topics
There are many environmental topics; some of the Environmental Persuasive speech topics are written below.
● Is banning zoos a good idea?
● Does recycling help the environment, and how?
● How banning plastic bags will help to build a sustainable environment?
● Why shouldn't people keep exotic animals as pets?
● How the Government is lacking in taking care of environmental resources.
● What are the steps we should take to tackle global warming?
● How to control water pollution?
Speech Topics About Yourself
Exclusive Speech Topics about yourself, including,
● Aim in Life
● My real-life hero
● My school life
● My best friend
● My favorite subject in the school
● My last summer break
Speech Topics on Proverbs
Some of the most common Speech Topics on Proverbs are given below.
● Knowledge is power
● Health is wealth
● Unity is strength
● Laughter is the best medicine
● Many hands make light work.
● Strike while the iron is hot.
● Honesty is the best policy.
Speech Topics on Social Issues
Here are some of the popular Speech Topics on Social Issues written below.
● Organ donation
● Child labour
● Women empowerment
How to Choose a Public Speaking Topic?
For choosing public speaking ideas for students, you must consider several factors. Some of them are written below.
● Target audience
● The theme of the presentation
● Identify the purpose and the nature
● Contemporary affairs
● Personal interest, knowledge and experiences.
● Brainstorm possible topics based on the theme
● Shortlist the top Choices You are Confident About
Also Read : What Are the Public Speaking Tips for Kids ?
By now, you must have got a clear idea regarding public speaking. So, what are you waiting for? Start training your ward and guide them towards the right direction. We are sure this will help them have a promising and bright future.
Ms Ranjana, a highly accomplished French teacher, joined the GIIS East Coast Campus after moving from Australia. She has been teaching French, English and EAL for more than 20 years and graduated from Monash University, Australia. As a polyglot, she shares her passion for languages with her students. She helps them understand how our experiences influence our communication.
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Centering Students’ Voices in a Public Speaking Genre Study by Burke Scarbrough
Today’s students have access to stirring, powerful text in an ever widening array of forms. As we invite our students to discover the power of the carefully crafted written word, many of those students are even more strongly inclined to celebrate the power of language in oral performance. I’m referring to the genres and media in which artists breathe life into the written word through a sort of magic trick: they develop performances that make painstakingly crafted writing look and sound natural, spontaneous, or even effortless. In speeches that inspire, songs that transfix, movie moments that land, stand-up comedy that doubles us over, and spoken word poetry that sets fingers snapping, artists are hard at work behind the scenes—sweating the details, practicing to exhaustion.
English teachers can invite these oral performance genres into the classroom as the stuff of rigorous literacy learning. Whatever else they leave out, the Common Core State Standards emphasize the importance of organizing opportunities for students to read and write in a range of forms, and as they do, to learn to see writers’ choices as careful design moves that authors make depending on their genre, audience and purpose. They should make different decisions depending on whether they’re trying to persuade, inform, or tell a story. They should make and defend choices about language depending on what sort of communicating they’re doing, and to whom. And, we keep telling them, they should read like a fellow writer and write with their reader in mind. Too often, though, school reading and writing assignments come with the substantial baggage of being business as usual in the classroom; some students read with the hope of enjoying a good story, but when that doesn’t work out, they read and write (or don’t) because they’re told to.
Bringing public speaking into the English classroom, and widening the definition of public speaking to include many sorts of oral performance of written text, lets students treat popular and engaging works as texts worth studying. It can empower students to crack the codes of texts that move them and put those codes to use in the arguments they want to make and the stories they need to tell.
A Workshop for Text and Performance
As a former high school English teacher turned teacher educator, I scratch my secondary school teaching itch these days by teaching at a summer academic enrichment program at a New England boarding school. I work with high school students who come from around the US and the world to challenge themselves with enrichment courses and try out a boarding experience before many of them encounter it in college. When they walk through the door on the first day of my Speechmaking class, they’re not chasing grades or transcript credits; they want the academic challenge that they associate with a prep school, but they also want to be excited and inspired in ways that justify their choice to spend the summer back in a classroom. This is a motivated and self-selected student population, and the class sizes are small, so the summer program has always been an exciting space for me to try out engaging teaching units before doing the head-scratching work of adapting them for the other school settings in which I’ve worked.
The structure of the summer Speechmaking class follows an approach to writing workshop I got to know well through an earlier study of a high school English class taking on spoken word poetry (Scarbrough and Allen). While some famous examples of reading and writing workshop involve letting students choose the sorts of texts they want to read and write (Atwell), Speechmaking is different in two ways. First, the whole class works together to study a single genre—speeches—as a strange and mysterious type of text that the class needs to hack. As Sarah Andrew-Vaughan and Cathy Fleischer ask students to do individually in their Unfamiliar Genre Project, I ask the whole class to join me in an inductive inquiry process: to “gather and analyze model examples of that genre, to identify key characteristics of that genre, [and] to write in the genre” (38). Students have quite a bit of choice in what they want to communicate and accomplish through oral performance, but as they make those decisions, we are there to help each other figure out the rules and moves that characterize powerful public speaking.
Second, the class treats both written speeches and the performances of those speeches as types of text that we are there to study, draft, and revise. As obvious as it might seem that delivery is its own set of skills in public speaking, we bring that point home by switching our focus back and forth between the moves that seem to characterize effectively-written speeches and the performance choices that seem to do the most justice to those words. Part writing workshop, part performance workshop, the class gives me the chance to fuse my experience teaching English and teaching drama—a pair of skill sets many language arts teachers bring to their jobs or are asked to develop after they arrive.
Cracking the Code of a New Genre
Doing this inductive study of a genre—poring over examples in order to derive important features and patterns together—empowers students to do the noticing and thinking that teachers and textbook authors so often do for them. That said, it is time-consuming to have our students derive the very things we could show them. The Speechmaking class takes something of a middle ground, using a book about effective speechmaking to get us started with some important features, and then using extended discussion of sample speeches to first look for the features we’d read about and then widen our view to other aspects of the speech that we found valuable.
Public speaking textbooks are pricey, but Carmine Gallo’s Talk Like TED is an inexpensive paperback that presents features of popular TED Talks through the same sort of inductive process the Speechmaking class was undertaking; Gallo reviewed dozens of TED Talks, determined what many of them have in common, and suggests ways we might do something similar in all sorts of public speaking situations. Each chapter focuses on a particular facet of effective public speaking, and it refers to numerous famous TED talks as illustrations. Of course, there is more to public speaking than TED Talks—in fact, such a lengthy staged lecture might bore or scare off many students, including those with a strong interest in a distinctly different form of public speaking (spoken word poetry, perhaps, or church sermons). Still, TED is a vast, free digital resource for storytelling, teaching, and persuasion, so it offers us a starting point as we develop our own language for effective speechmaking. Moreover, Gallo approaches the crucial but sometimes tired trio of classical appeals—ethos, pathos, and logos—as a modern set of speaking principles that students can see and hear in many of the TED Talks he cites. Students can study ethos through chapters that emphasize how good speakers unleash their passion and reveal themselves authentically through their speeches; they can consider pathos in chapters that examine how good speakers tell stories, make the audience smile, and deliver jaw-dropping moments; and they can approach logos by being exhorted to teach the audience something new and organize clear main points and supporting evidence around the “rule of 3s.”
Of course, there are many other public speaking textbooks and online primers available. I have found excerpts and sample speeches in Stephen Lucas’s The Art of Public Speaking to be useful. In particular, I have used (with permission) an excerpt about different ways speakers establish credibility, another about different approaches to introductions in speeches, and some model informative or persuasive speeches (of manageable length) written by college students. Crucially, though, our purpose is not to march through any public speaking textbook from start to finish; textbook readings are there to model and reinforce the sorts of patterns we might go on to notice as a class as we spend time responding to all sorts of speeches. A few days each week—and numerous homework assignments—are devoted to reading or watching a growing variety of texts: TED Talks, political speeches, spoken word poetry (see YouTube channels for All Def Poetry or Youth Speaks), personal stories (see themoth.org), speeches from movies or TV, videos by YouTube celebrities, and written speeches by former students. While I come to the unit with numerous examples, it isn’t long before students begin nominating all sorts of oral performances that they love, and as time permits, I challenge interested students to prepare a rationale for why a given speech is worth studying and, if their rationale is compelling, invite them to present their chosen speech and facilitate the class’s analysis.
One way to keep track of the traits of good speechwriting and delivery that we discover is to develop a shared Speech Feedback Form and update it every few days. This Google Doc rubric includes a growing and reshuffling set of traits that the class is ready to hold each other accountable for in our own writing and speaking. By the time we add a new trait to this rubric, the class has identified it as a key to good speechmaking, discussed it in the context of several speeches, and talked about tips for adapting that trait to other speaking situations. Students’ speech assignments then follow this growing rubric: for instance, once we discover and discuss “passion” and “credibility” as keys to good speechmaking, students draft short informative speeches that teach the class something meaningful to the speaker; once we become aware of an effective “rate of speech” and study how speakers make a main point clear and relatable through “storytelling” as well as “volume” and “tone” of voice, students draft and revise a speech that makes a point by telling a story (see Figure 1 for how the co-constructed rubric might look at this point); and as we go on to focus on “body language,” clear and engaging “introductions” and “conclusions,” and “content” that brings together evidence and storytelling around the rule of threes, students begin to research, draft and revise persuasive speeches on a topic that moves them. In other words, our rubric serves as common ground between the features we notice through reading and the writing and performances students develop.
What’s Worth Speaking About?
With structures in place for annotating sample speeches and assessing what students come up with, I want to make sure that my students have ways to generate speech ideas that matter to them. For some, this is as easy as pausing after the speeches we study to let students take note of possible speech topics in a growing notebook list. Upon hearing a spoken word poet or a storyteller on The Moth recount a personal story with deep significance, some students quickly identify life-altering incidents or deceptively significant small stories that they want to craft for an audience. Upon hearing TED Talks or political speeches or speeches by students addressing social injustices, some students identify issues that make them want to speak out. Others come to class already motivated to speak out about current events. And on a lighter note, a few have been interested in the rhetorical challenge of arguing a counterintuitive point, as I have sometimes done by inviting students to give me an “impossible” topic to address in a speech at the end of the unit. Past examples have included “Water: A Threat to Us All” and “The Many Uses of Rubber Ducks.”
As students brainstorm topics of personal interest, I challenge them to go one step further and consider—particularly in their persuasive speech, the longest speech I assign, and one that includes a research component—speech topics that occupy a “sweet spot” among three criteria: being of interest to the speaker, being of likely interest to the listener, and being something that many people don’t know or disagree about (See Figure 2). I also have students come to class with two potential speech topics, and for each one, a brief rationale and a few questions they wish they could ask their audience before preparing the speech. After writing this information at the top of blank sheets of paper (or posting it electronically), students pass papers from one classmate to the next, engaging in a “silent conversation” (Wilhelm) that lets each speaker read reactions and answers to a few audience analysis questions before committing to a topic and beginning a draft. Amid the hard work of reconciling their own interests with the varied responses of their classmates, speakers are learning to consider their responsibilities to an audience and to strategize about what it will take to persuade that audience.
Studying Performance As a Text
The classic features of a writing process workshop appear in the Speechmaking class: students spend time generating ideas, drafting and revising text, and giving and receiving feedback from peers and from me. But a key feature of studying the public speaking genre is splitting this workshop time between drafting and revising written speeches and drafting and revising performances of those written words. One of the first challenges I find in studying performance with students is helping students to see performance choices as choices. One powerful way to make that visible is to show students short scripts or transcripts from a video performance before they have the chance to see the performance. Many genres can work nicely with this, but I tend to use TV and movie scenes. Students read and mark up bits of text that range from a single line to a full dramatic monologue, and they use annotation markings to indicate where they would use pacing, pauses, pitch, or volume to bring the words to life. Hearing volunteers share different choices about the same text, and then turning to the filmed performance by a famous actor or passionate spoken word poet, students see how much decision-making there is in the move from page to stage. Once we began to play with vocal performance choices in this way—and, soon, eye contact and gestures as well—students are also more likely to refer to these features of speechmaking in each of the speeches we watch and discuss as a class.
Another challenge in performance workshop is getting students to commit to trying out strong performance choices, including some that might be more extreme than what the speaker will ultimately settle on. I explain this as a version of the goldilocks story: for choices about volume, rate of speech, variety in pitch and tone, emphasis through volume and pauses, or emphasis through facial expression and gestures, sometimes it is useful to make a choice too extreme in one direction, and then too extreme in another direction, before settling on a middle ground that is (for the particular situation) just right. Sometimes students practice delivering portions of a speech draft in each of these three ways, playing with what it would mean to go “too far” in one direction or another and, in the process, discovering the full range of performance choices they have available. Other times, I bring children’s books or short ghost stories to class for shared reading—for many, a familiar context for making dramatic choices about vocal delivery when reading. As we make these performance styles visible, we begin to discuss the sometimes subtle similarities and differences between reading, acting, and delivering a speech without quite sounding like one is reading or acting.
Above all, students need rounds of practice that let them try to bring words to life, get quick feedback, set a manageable goal, and try again. While there isn’t time for me to give every student individual coaching during each day of performance workshop, I try to create spaces for students to accumulate some “reps” making and evaluating performance choices. Sometimes, students pair up and practice delivering part or all of a draft speech for a peer; these sessions go best when each speaker identifies one aspect of performance that would be a particular focus in this round of practice. When technology allows (and, increasingly, it does), students might film or audiorecord their partners so that each speaker can spend time doing the awkward but private work of seeing oneself on screen. Other times, I organize students into an inner circle and simulate “speed dates” in which pairs would take turns delivering part of a speech, hear a moment of focused feedback from a partner, and then rotate to a new partner for another round of practice. Sometimes students would tell their partners what they were interested in working on with this round of delivery; other times, I would call out instructions for a given round of practice (“this time, try adding in one really dramatic pause,” or “this time, see what happens if you deliver the speech a little too loudly”). Students are often surprised how well-received their attempts are when they thought they were speaking too loudly, too slowly, or with too much emphasis on important words or phrases. Whatever they discover, the best way for them to develop performance choices that work is to have numerous rounds of low-stakes practice with the chance to see how choices look and sound to oneself and others.
An Adaptable Unit
For a final speech of the unit, I want students to have lots of freedom, but I also want us to be able to organize some speaking situations that were one step more authentic than sitting in our classroom pretending to be one audience or another. As a middle ground, I often have students choose one of several types of speeches, and the class then travels to a different space each day to hear the relevant speech: toasts in the cafeteria, stories or spoken word poems in the theater, and mini-TED Talks in the classroom. Grading student work isn’t a priority in my summer course, and the speeches that closely match our developing speech rubrics are already behind us, so we focus on positive feedback after each speech and only record them if the speaker wishes. Rather than a culminating assessment, this final speech is a low-stakes celebration; the students’ hard work and learning is evident in their annotations, discussions, co-constructed feedback forms, and many cycles of drafting, revising, assessing, and goal-setting for written speeches and performances.
Over nearly two decades of teaching Speechmaking in the summer, I have expanded and contracted the course to prioritize different speech assignments, different speaking traits worth working on, different ways of balancing textbook readings with analysis of real speeches, different ways of balancing reading and writing emphases, different ways of balancing writing and performance workshop time, and different outside-of-class expectations given students’ workloads and access to technology. What has stayed constant for me is the power of defining “public speaking” in a way that includes a variety of texts that many students already find powerful, treating students as capable critical analysts who can help author the speechmaking principles we study, and treating skilled writing and performance as important enough to hand over to students.
That said, the scope of the unit will change depending on how many students are in the room, how safe the classroom community is for sharing writing and taking risks with performance, and what sorts of work can be expected outside of class. This unit is useful in that the oral performances we study are short; each of them can be viewed, discussed, and even emulated within a class period. Similarly, the writing and performance workshop process can unfold largely or entirely during class time. With students who are less immersed in a discussion-driven pedagogy, as students in my summer enrichment setting are, I would be more deliberate in modeling the ways of annotating and responding to printed speeches. I would also ramp up to student-driven discussions by making explicit the sorts of moves that help people build on and politely challenge each other’s comments. And with students who are less likely to think of themselves as current or future leaders likely to speak in public, I would spend more time uncovering the interests and issues that might motivate students to speak out, making sure that analysis and workshop practice are clearly serving goals that students find relevant.
There are many other ways to adapt the broad strokes of this unit into assignments and daily lessons that match different school settings and learning goals.In addition to the perennial balancing acts I listed above, here are a few more choices and challenges that I’m excited to think about each time I prepare to teach Speechmaking:
- How can I organize authentic audiences for my students? It’s not easy to create spaces for someone other than teachers and classmates to give the gift of their attention, and it’s even harder to organize this for many students at once. Often, my summer speechmaking students write and deliver speeches to the class with future audiences in mind—they write toasts for upcoming family events, speeches for student government campaigns, public service announcements about issues in their home towns, or speeches to motivate their sports teams. But I continue to look for ways to use the school, the community, and the virtual world as audiences my students can address and hear back from.
- Should textbook excerpts lead or follow? In some ways, Talk Like TED presents the very sorts of insights I’d like my students to notice on their own. Students come with substantial prior knowledge about what moves them, so consider how you’d like to balance letting students work up best practices from studying speeches together vs. letting a text like Talk Like TED lead the way.
- Is there time for play? I value bringing a real sense of play into the classroom, letting students enjoy the creative challenges of performance in a low-stakes setting. When time allows, one way to do this is to play theater games; I recommend Glyn Trefor-Jones’s book Drama Menu as a useful compendium of fun games that get students working together to make performance choices. Another way is to practice impromptu speechmaking, in which students draft speech topics they’d be excited to take on, and then they are assigned one of these at random. (There are also many lists of fun impromptu speech topics available online.) In a first round of practice, students might have three minutes for jotting a few main points on an index card plus one minute of practice speaking to the classroom wall before turning and delivering the short speech to a partner. After a round or two like this, students might get only 30 seconds to think (no jotting) before it is time to speak. Once they are reminded that this is a nearly impossible challenge, many students are excited to give it a try.
- How much work can I hand over to students? For classrooms with widespread technology access, consider letting students take charge of choosing and presenting analyses of speeches in class. A service like Vibby ( www.vibby.com ) lets users highlight and clip specific segments of YouTube videos, helping presenters move seamlessly from one highlight to another as they share their thoughts or pose questions to the class. Users can also post and respond to comments on each video highlight. A different approach to involving most students more of the time is to adapt a Toastmasters meeting format for a class (or, through a fishbowl structure, half a class at a time), distributing the work of giving prepared speeches, giving short impromptu speeches, giving oral feedback to speakers, and running the meeting itself (“Club”).
- How can I make self-assessment and feedback quicker? Technology is making it easier to integrate cycles of practice, feedback, and self-reflection into the unit as students work on speech performances. A variety of apps can capture audio or video and, if necessary, push it to storage spaces for students and teachers to review. Consider ways to help students get quick access to recordings of their own rehearsals, describe what they notice, and set a goal for their next attempt.
Oral performance is a vital part of language arts, and it is too often either neglected or relegated to elective courses and after-school experiences. Workshop and genre study pedagogy gives students the opportunity to analyze, draft, revise, and “publish” oral performance in many of the same ways, and in service of the same learning standards, that teachers readily apply to print genres. The more widely teachers can define “text” (and “public speaking”) in the classroom, the more that literacy learning can emerge from forms of art that truly stir students’ passions.
Andrew-Vaughan, Sarah, and Cathy Fleischer. “Researching Writing: The Unfamiliar-Genre Research Project.” English Journal , vol. 95, no. 4, 2006, pp. 26-42.
Atwell, Nancie. In the Middle . 3rd ed. Heinemann, 2015.
“Club Meeting Roles.” Toastmasters International. www.toastmasters.org/membership/club-meeting-roles . Accessed 29 August 2017.
Gallo, Carmine. Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds . New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014.
Lucas, Stephen E. The Art of Public Speaking . 11th ed. McGraw Hill, 2012.
Scarbrough, Burke, and Anna-Ruth Allen. “Writing Workshop Revisited: Confronting Communicative Dilemmas Through Spoken Word Poetry in a High School English Classroom.” Journal of Literacy Research, vol. 46, no.4, 2014, pp. 475-505.
Trefor-Jones, Glyn. Drama Menu: Theatre Games in Three Courses. Nick Hern Books, 2015.
Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension . Scholastic, 2002.
Fig. 1 How our co-constructed feedback form might look by the time of a “Storytelling Speech” assignment
Fig. 2 What makes a good persuasive speech topic?
Learn more about Burke Scarbrough on our Contributors page
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