Resource 12: 9 Ways to Lower the Stakes in Public Speaking Situations


9 Ways to Lower the Stakes in Public Speaking Situations


Small Audiences.

Start by practicing in pairs, then standing in small groups, then in front of the class, then in front of a public audience.


Seated Presentations.

Have students practice speaking seated before they stand in front of the class.


Limited Choices.

Offer students a limited set of 3 to 5 topic choices that range in difficulty, so that they aren’t overwhelmed by unlimited possibilities but also have a choice.


Simultaneous Practice.

Have students practice their remarks all at once -- it’s noisy, but it makes them feel like they can blend in and no one is listening to them while they practice.


Frequent Rehearsal.

Practice remarks in class...a lot!


Run-through the Opening Walk.

Have students practice walking up to the front of the room and feeling secure in their opening stance.


Increase Presentations.

Increase the number of public speaking assignments so that they become less of a big deal.


Adjust Grading.

When appropriate, incorporate self-assessment as part of the grade and adjust the weight of some public speaking assignments to take the pressure off.


Be Careful What You Ask For.

Take care when you include requirements that raise the pressure, like requiring students to memorize their speech.

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