This semester, I am teaching an Introduction to Public Speaking class at our bi-weekly homeschool co-op. Although the practical goal for this class is to provide opportunity and practice for the children to be able speak in a large group setting, the spiritual implications can be found in the class verse,
"But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," 1 Peter 3:15As Christ-followers, we ought always be ready to give an answer to the hope that we have. That "readiness" requires a MESSAGE and the ABILITY to proclaim it. While I believe that God can and does use even the most timidly-delivered testimonies for His glory, I also think this verse implies a boldness. Often boldness only comes with practice and a little bit of know-how. This class offers both.
To provide practical instruction in the following public speaking skills in order that each student can successfully deliver a demonstration speech at the end of the semester:
- approaching the platform
- commanding audience attention
- eye contact
- facial/body expression
- speech preparation
- peer evaluation and critique
Typical Class Schedule
Each class period will contain the same six elements unless otherwise mentioned in the lesson plan. They are as follows:
- vocal/body warm-up exercise
- review of previously learned material
- brief lesson of new material
- brainstorming/planning session
- take-home assignment
The culmination of the entire semester comes in the form of a demonstration speech. I have chosen the demonstration speech to be the final project because it is one of the simplest and most-practical of all speech types. Delivery of a demonstration speech requires use of all the skills mastered throughout the semester and can easily be age-tailored for my young students.
Each demo speech must possess the following four parts:
- Listing of necessary supplies/materials
- Steps of completion
Mentor & Peer-Critique
As with anything in life, evaluation is a helpful tool for personal improvement. Part of learning to become an effective speaker is learning to become a critical listener of one's audience. Each speech will be delivered at least twice in order that mentor and peer feedback may be given and used for improvement. Each student will deliver his/her speech once. Oral feedback will, then, be given by me, the mentor, in the form of at least 2 positive comments and 1 constructive criticism. After the first round of speeches has been completed by everyone in the class, the second round will begin. Each student will re-deliver his/her speech keeping the mentor feedback in mind. After each "do-over", I will call upon other class members to provide peer critiques. Two students will be asked to give a positive comment about the speech and one student will be asked to provide a constructive criticism.
Warm-up Exercise: The Penguin; march around the room with large strides and swinging arms
- Introduce the class verse and explain the importance of public speaking.
- Discuss a Biblical view of "shyness".
- Demonstrate how to properly introduce oneself and allow everyone to practice.
- Demonstrate how to properly approach and exit a platform and allow everyone to practice.
- Discuss the importance of a peer-critique and give examples.
- Discuss "vocal clutter" (ummm, and, uhhh, other filler words).
Read over the Presidential Trivia paragraphs twice to yourself and once to your family. Become familiar with it, but do not memorize it.*
*I've typed out short paragraph excerpts from the book I Grew Up to be President by Laurie Calkhoven. Each excerpt is from the life of a different president and will be assigned to one of the students in the speech class.
Warm-up Exercise: Tongue twisters
Review: how to approach and exit a speaking platform
- Discuss appropriate volume for audience size, maintaining eye contact when reading something aloud, and proper pausing during a recitation/reading.
- Demonstrate a presidential trivia paragraph reading.
- Allow everyone to have two run-throughs of his/her presidential paragraphs. (Follow mentor/peer critique guidelines.)
Warm-up Exercise: Play "What's in the box?" (Fill a box with random items from around your house such as a coat hanger, a jump rope, an empty water jug. Call one student at a time to the front to pull one item out of the box. He/she must create an alternative use for the item and use it in a charade-like mini skit. Audience members must correctly guess the new use for the item.)
- Discuss hand gestures, body language, and improvisation skills.
- Show an example of a demonstration speech from youtube.
- Discuss the four main parts of a demonstration speech: introduction, listing of necessary supplies/materials, steps of completion, conclusion.
- Brainstorm possible demonstration speech topics as a group.
- Assist the students in choosing a topic. (Speeches should only be 3-5 minutes in length. Chosen topics should be ones that can be demonstrated from start to finish at co-op.)
Take-home Assignment: Pass out a 3x5 card to each student. Instruct everyone to write his/her name at the top and his/her demo speech topic. They are to take these cards home and use them to list out all of the necessary materials for their chosen demo topic.
Warm-up Exercise: Clap/Snap Oral Scattergories (Gather everyone in a large circle. Introduce a topic such as boy's names or animals. Call out a letter and then begin a clap/snap pattern with everyone clapping and snapping in unison. As soon as a rhythm has been established, call on one of the students to start the game. He/she has to say a word that falls under the topic heading and begins with the assigned letter BEFORE one repetition of clap/snap is finished. The play continues until someone is unable to give a word in the allotted time. When this happens, he/she is out and a new topic and letter are chosen. The game continues until all players except one have been eliminated Example: If the topic is boy's names and the letter is B, the students around the circle could call out BRIAN [clap, clap, snap, snap] BRAD [clap, clap, snap, snap] BRENT [clap, clap, snap, snap]... )
Review: The four parts of a demonstration speech.
- Write out the steps to the demonstration on 3 x 5 cards.
- Review concepts learned in Day 2.
- Discuss the logical progression of a speech.
Warm-up Exercise: Play charades using suggestions from Kid's Charades.
Review: the four parts of a demonstration speech
- Introduce different types of introduction examples. (question, quotation, narrative story, statistic, personal reference, joke, historical or current event reference)
- Assist the students in brainstorming introductions for their demonstration speeches.
- Introduce different types of conclusion examples. (question, quotation, strong appeal, inspirational story, joke, summary)
- Assist the students in brainstorming conclusions for their demonstrations speeches.
Take-Home Assignment: Practice your speech a total of 4 times (3 to yourself and once to your family).
Warm-up Exercise: tongue twisters and body stretches
- Allow the students to deliver their demonstration speeches.
- Provide mentor feedback of each and allow for audience feedback from other students.