Exemplary: Delivery techniques (posture, gesture, eye contact, and vocal expressiveness) make the presentation compelling, and speaker appears polished and confident. Delivery appears natural and purposeful. There are no signs of speech anxiety.
1. Practice is Key!
The most important thing a student should know is that practice is the single most effective way to becoming a proficient oral communicator who is able to control the adrenaline that they may interpret as anxiety. A review of texts and research supports this as perhaps the one thing upon which all speech communication educators and scholars agree. Included are suggestions for practicing. Students should be encouraged to tape and critique speeches, practice in front of mirrors or with tape recorders, and ultimately practice as a “dress rehearsal” in which as much of the actual graded presentational context as possible is replicated. A checklist for preparation is included.
2. Video Tape
Videotaping is an invaluable resource for students. While it often generates additional anxiety, students’ abilities to watch themselves and provide a self-critique of their performance will contribute significantly to improvement in performance and an elevation in their confidence. While it may be an additional element to deal with in the classroom, it is a great idea to arrange for video-taping of the graded performance. A self-assessment assignment is included that assumes taping of in-class speeches onto students’ memory cards.
3. Warming Up
Any performer “warms up” before the performance. Athletes stretch out, shoot baskets, play catch, etc. Vocalists exercise their voices. Dancers stretch. Speakers can also warm up prior to speaking. The best two things—most simple things—speakers can do prior to speaking is take deep breaths, and limber up their vocal mechanisms. A list of tongue twisters is included for students to use prior to speaking.
4. Suggestions for discussing effective delivery
Bullet points are provided for discussing various aspects of delivery.
5. Evolving Feedback
It is a good idea to engage all students in the class as peer critics. Ask all students to make a list of three strengths and three areas for improvement for each speaker. After all speeches have been given for the day, ask students to give their constructive criticism to the speakers. Research supports the value of immediate feedback in facilitating long-term improvement. Additionally, ask students to keep a record of feedback throughout the year, amending it after each oral activity. Students should be encouraged to use this record as their checklist for preparing each speech, working to lessen the list of areas for improvement and expand the list of strengths. A “do and don’t” list is provided as a starting point.
6. Suggestions for discussing communication apprehension and constructive criticism
Bullet points are provided for discussing communication apprehension and constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is closely connected with managing apprehension.