Speaking of Speech...

Nov 18, 2016 | Posted by Danielle Olander

What is feared more than death itself? Public speaking! I’ve heard this all my life, but I wondered whether it was really true. It turns out, at least according to the 2016 Chapman University Study of American Fears, that only 19% of Americans are afraid of dying, while 25.9% are afraid of public speaking. Can you do anything to reduce your student’s fear of public speaking? Yes, you can, by providing clear instruction and opportunities for practice. Here is how our co-op did it several years ago using Speech Boot Camp.

Our family met with three other families once a week to study history, fine arts, literature, and writing. The littlest ones did crafts while the older students were generally divided into high school, middle school, and elementary ages. The two older groups spent eleven weeks on speech and public speaking. We alternated weekly between watching the DVD instruction and giving speeches. Spending approximately one hour per week, we were able to complete all the materials easily. We had five students in each level, so we didn’t need to spend more than a single session on giving speeches for each lesson.  

Speech Boot Camp is an easy and pleasant introduction to public speaking, for both the instructor as well as the students. Each video session includes either instruction by Mr. Pudewa and other speaking experts or modeling of the specific speech type by the students in his class. One of the strengths of the program is the opportunity for the class to evaluate the students on the DVD. My students enjoyed practicing their evaluation skills on someone other than a friend or classmate for the first time through. By the end of the class, they each had a favorite speaker from the DVD, other than Mr. Pudewa, of course!

Speech Boot Camp covers the following types of speeches:

  • Self-introduction
  • Narrative
  • Descriptive
  • Persuasive

For students familiar with the writing methods we teach, this course will be an easy extension of outlining through key words and telling the outline back. Being prepared with the content for a speech, the students are then able to focus on the skills of delivery. While they may fear the audience’s response, they will not face the dreaded “I don’t know what to say!” Mr. Pudewa presents excellent instruction in how to gather and arrange information for speeches and presentations. He even brings in a voice instructor to help with delivery tips.

This course provided an easy introduction to public speaking for my children, allowing them to overcome their initial fear of public speaking. As a homeschool graduate from many years ago, I struggled in my college freshman classes when I had to give any presentation, and my public speaking course grade nearly ruined my chances at continuing scholarships. Keeping my experience in mind, I have purposely attempted to include some form of public speaking in many of my writing classes. Thankfully, these materials make it easy for the teacher as well as the students.

Speech Boot Camp is generally targeted for students in middle school to high school. The course is presented on four DVDs with a downloadable e-book containing reproducible handouts for “trainees” and lesson plans with evaluation forms for the parent/facilitator. Lesson plans provide for either a four-day intensive or an eleven-week course. Gather a group of students and complete the course together. It will be a powerful tool to encourage competent oral communication and will be fun to boot!

Danielle Olander, an IEW® Accomplished Instructor, is the author of Rockets, Radar, and Robotics. Married to her college sweetheart, Ray, and a homeschooling mom of five amazing children, she coaches writing via email for students from Michigan to Papua New Guinea. After graduating from her parents’ homeschool in the pioneer days of homeschooling, Danielle graduated summa cum laude with her B.A. in English/History Education from Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI.

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