Public Speaking

Article excerpt

Some people please us when ihey stand up and speak; others, when they sit domi. Effective public speakers set themselves apart from the crowd, and puhlic speaking skills distinguish Latino students preparing for higher education.

For many Hispanic students, high school speech class is too late to build the attitude and skills necessary for effective public speaking. Beginning with the early elementan' school years, Hispanic students can learn that public speaking is an essential skill based on organized thoughts that engage the audience and serve a specific purpose. Calling upon students to share ideas with classmates or read aloud are two typical ways teachers prime the public speaking pump early. Beyond tliird grade, more formal public speaking can be required and comfortably completed if students are taught how to do so. Specific know-how can help the young Latino avoid the fear and dread that so often plague others who have no clue where to begin. Preparation, practice and coaching are keys to moving a shy Latino student from anxiety to confidence.

The four-point IRAC method to puhlic speaking - Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion - is useful for students from fourth grade up. First, having the student select a topic or issue of concern or interest hooks him into the assignment, He can then convey a more impassioned, convincing message. For example, a student who proclaims that "public speaking terrifies nie" is dear on the issue because it is his. (Assigned topics are sometimes difficult for students to embrace and can be introduced later, once the student is confident in die process from beginning to end.) After stating the topic or issue, the rule is stated. ("Most people become afraid of public speaking at one time or another, but that fear can be overcome.'' The analysis section of the speech details why/when the speaker or (lie audience should lake steps diat are being suggested to resolve the problem. ('"Follow this format for developing a speech, and practice once a day in front of others.") The conclusion draws all the points together and reiterates the importance of the topic, the key challenges, best solutions and benefits derived from implementing those steps.

Beyond preparing the text itself. Latino youth can practice other ways of limiting stage fright or calming die jitters. Relaxation techniques using deep breathing and visualization help the student control breathing, slow down heart rate and focus. …