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Helping Speech Students Increase Eye Contact When Speaking I've been teaching speech, a required course at our high school, for over eight years now and have yet to find an effective way to help...

Helping Speech Students Increase Eye Contact When Speaking

I've been teaching speech, a required course at our high school, for over eight years now and have yet to find an effective way to help students look up when they present a speech!  I've taken points off, discussed it as a class, stopped them in mid-speech to redirect them, limited them to just note cards, and who knows what else.  Their final speeches today were a disaster in this area!

I try to make learning fun and understand that public speaking is nerve-racking, so I'm hoping to do something fun and engaging to get the point across.

Thoughts?  Fun activities?

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kiwi eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write1,176 answers

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I have posters around my classroom - particularly on the back wall - for students to have eye contact with. Also, with junior students we encourage use of the smartboard and Powerpoint to support their speeches and to give the audience something else to look at as well as the speaker. I don't allow cue cards, but students can write/print out prompts in large letters and place on the desk, or have notes/prompts on the wall at the back. This stops hand shuffling and reading from a script.

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McKinstry Rose eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write1,976 answers

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If your students are doing any type of interpretative speeches (Dramatic Interp. Humorous Interp., etc.)as part of their curriculum, I would start with those. At my school, we start with those type of speeches to get students comfortable with being in front of one another. Children's Lit. and Poetry Interp. are also good categories for this practice even if students are planning to focus on expository speaking or debate. By beginning with interp. pieces, students can "become" someone else and later work up to being themselves when they participate in public speaking. They need to realize that even when they are presenting original oratories or impromptu speeches, they still need to take on a persona. This often helps them be more comfortable in front of their peers.

 

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write7,077 answers

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I've had these same problems myself when I was teaching speech and when I require students to give a speech in English. Many students refuse to prepare adequately and basically write the entire speech verbatim for them to read. I usually restrict students to only notecards, but many students attempt to cram the speech verbatim on the cards, creating a squint as well as near-zero eye contact. I have even restricted students to one notecard, with writing on one side only. This seems to work the best, since NO notecards will only result in a bad speech with many forgotten parts.

I am reminded of an old Andy Griffith Show episode in which Barney tries to stretch his height an inch in order to reach the minimum height restriction for deputies. Andy hung a contraption from the ceiling which attached to Barney's head and chin. It pulled his chin up and lifted his body to his tiptoes. If you could rig such an apparatus from your classroom ceiling, it might be a fun exercise for your students.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write15,968 answers

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I have students draw silly faces on paper plates.  Then we scatter them around the room, hang them on the wall, and so on.  The kids practice making eye contact with the plates, and then move on to actual people once they get the hang of it.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write4,625 answers

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I used to have horrible shakes when speaking in front of a group. I would completely make myself anxious. I began to use relaxation techniques before speaking. Another suggestion would be to allow the student who is getting ready to speak wait just outside the door. This allows them to collect themselves privately prior to speaking.

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Dayna Watsica eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write4,795 answers

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Here is another option. I do quite a lot of public speaking and two things help me. First, there has to be mastery of the material. There is no way around this. If they do not know the material, they will be nervous. They will also look down at...

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