Writing an essay, taking a pop quiz, and giving a speech probably are three of the tasks students dread most. Speaking in public terrifies many people of all ages. Adolescents are not immune. It doesn’t matter that they may be speaking only to their closest friends; most students feel very nervous because peer pressure is so intense. Usually there are a few students who delight at being given a chance to address their classmates. Over time with practice, the rest can learn to enjoy making oral presentations. They simply need to learn a few secrets.
The steps involved in writing a good essay are the same as those used to prepare a good speech. Both require the student first to organize his ideas and then to present them systematically. This helps readers and listeners to understand his line of reasoning.
Secret #1 is to write an “outline essay.”
The first sentence answers the question, or makes a general statement. Each of the following sentences expresses a single reason or argument to support the first sentence. Think of these sentences as “bullet points;” students will elaborate on these points with facts and details in subsequent paragraphs. The last sentence offers a preliminary conclusion.
The “outline essay” becomes the first paragraph of the paper. It provides an overview of what the student is going to tell the reader. Then he actually tells him in the paragraphs that follow. Finally, he uses the final paragraph to remind the reader what he was told. The “outline essay” provides the student with a road map for presenting his ideas in an orderly manner.
The outline essay also can function as a “crib sheet” for presenting the essay’s content orally to the student’s classmates. So what? How does this make it any easier to stand up in front of the class and give a speech?
Here is secret #2: It is not necessary to memorize every sentence in the essay.
The other people in the class won’t have a copy of the essay in front of them. They don’t know what the student wrote. It won’t matter if he leaves out a few minor details. All that matters is presenting the ideas in a logical sequence to make it easy for classmates to understand them. Think about it: What do folks fear most about giving a speech?
A) They are afraid of appearing foolish.
B) They are afraid of losing their train of thought.
No one enjoys listening to someone reading a speech word for word. It sounds awkward and stilted. More important, it prevents the speaker from making eye contact with individuals in the audience. A relaxed speaker can use vocal tones and voice inflections to add another dimension to the content of a paper, causing it to be even more persuasive.
Accomplished public speakers always know their material well, yet they present it as if they were merely having a conversation with the audience. After writing the essay itself, a student should be familiar with its content. It should be fairly easy to address his or her classmates about the essay’s topic, referring to the outline essay occasionally to stay on track. Giving a speech provides students with a taste of what it’s like to be in “Show Biz.” The fear of ridicule is offset by the delicious sense of power that comes from delivering a speech, which is well received by the audience. Presenting an essay orally to classmates is excellent training for becoming a competent public speaker. This skill can be useful to students for the rest of their lives..