During the close of a recent class, I overheard a conversation about the students presenting during their next class period. Essentially, no one wanted to go first.
I interjected politely and encouraged that they should all be volunteering to present first, to set the bar high, to be confident, that there’s nothing to fear, and to want to go first. Now, I understand that presenting in middle school and high school is nerve-racking for some kids. It can even be that way for adults, (myself included sometimes)!
But, I guess what I’ve come to learn is that by embracing this ‘fear’ or apprehension in the first place, let alone going first, is simply a false fear. Our limbic brain, the amygdala, no longer has to worry about predators, like tigers or wolves, in our modern, civilized world. The limbic part of our brain controls fight or flight responses. So, the common fear of public speaking is now something this part of our brain can stress over.
Things to share with kids:
- Be proactive. Take initiative, own responsibilities, and prepare.
- Visualize and begin with the end in mind.
- Know your content and material inside and out. Start with the biggest tasks to prepare.
- Rehearse with peers and family.
- Use storytelling and narrative to engage your audience, which will help you be better able to recall it yourself.
- Nothing bad will happen even if a mistake is made.
These tips came to mind after hearing this exchange among those kids. I hope that we can all create a culture of empathy and rapport so that all students can flourish into confident communicators.