Public Speaking: Why do educators need it?

Did you see the start of my new series, “Public Speaking: Why do you need it?

You probably noticed that I started with an easy one in “Public Speaking: Why do politicians need it?“, but let’s start looking at some more common careers.

How do you feel about educators and public speaking skills?  Did you know that teachers don’t get training in public speaking, need to capture and maintain the attention of their students, and fear speaking to a group of their fellow educators?

Public speaking training in school

I work in a school district of five schools which range from Kindergarten to grade twelve.  I have asked around and I keep getting the same answer.  “Do your receive training in public speaking?”  Always the answer is the same, “No.”

Please, do not get me wrong.  Teachers are highly educated, intelligent, and skilled at instructing our children.  I love to watch them at work and observe their techniques. I always learn something to help me be a better speaker.

But while being highly educated in the art and science of learning modes, technology integration, lesson plan and course preparation, assessment, and data analysis…  they still have to learn some things on the job.  Don’t close repeatedly, don’t over-text your PowerPoint, make the presentation about the audience, and end with your punch line/word/phrase.

Imagine the advantage of learning these skills while you are still in school, earning your degree.

Capturing and maintaining the attention of your students

You are standing in front of your students, in your elementary school classroom, and you say “The next part of a sentence is the verb.  A verb describes an action or a state.”  ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz

That is not going to grab an elementary student’s attention.  How do you think those same students would react if you started the class with, “Today you will learn that verbs are important.  How important?  Without a verb… you wouldn’t be able to play, sleep, eat, or EVEN breathe.   Why do you think that is?”

Public speaking skills teach you to rephrase your words in that way.  It opens with a question that hopes to get them wondering.  Gets them to ask themselves and then want the answer.  Then it uses a powerful statement, the apparent loss of common and important abilities, to shock.  Then ends with the students being compelled to figure it out themselves.  You can then continue with workgroups, interactive discussions, or exercises.

Fear of speaking to your fellow educators

This is one, that if you are like me, will certainly surprise you.  Afraid of speaking to your fellow educators?

Early on in my current position, I was asked to assist a teacher with a PowerPoint presentation.  This teacher was very nervous about speaking in front of the school board and principals of the schools.  I thought to myself, “But every single day you stand in front of a classroom full of students!”

I later found out some teachers suffer from the same affliction as many people who need to speak… fear of embarrassing themselves.  When teachers are in front of students they focus is directly on the idea that their students must learn the material.  That is their goal.  It is also what their minds are focused on.

But then they must present something to the board and share it with the principals or other teachers.  The idea then starts to creep into their mind.  “Will I be good enough?”  It is the worry of ‘Will I embarrass myself’ that many speakers face.  Public speaker training teaches you that every presentation, every location, and every audience must be approached with the same focus… your audience.  As Darren LaCroix likes to say, “What do you want the audience to think, see, or do differently because of your speech?”

Do you remember your teachers?  What could they have done better? Or are you a teacher?  If so, what have you learned over time about the delivery part of your instruction?

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