Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking

Last Friday, my friend Ivan came to our Lyceum to do a training on public speaking. He's the same trainer who did the public speaking training at the "Traffick Jam" counter human trafficking seminar in October, I was so impressed with his training that I invited him to come to my school! I organized this training with our school psychologist, Ira Ivanovna. We had a group of 24 participants, ranging from 8th through 11th grade. If you're wondering why we invited children as young as 8th graders, its because they are already participating in school concerts and competitions by that age - so public speaking is useful for all of them! In fact, Ira liked this training so much that she wants to invite Ivan back to our school over winter break, to conduct the same training for our teachers : )

with all of our participants and Ivan!
A fear of public speaking is a world wide problem, its common here as well as back at home in America... so I hope that my students gained a little more confidence and knowledge about how to present themselves as good public speakers. First, Ivan talked a little about which situations they might have to give presentations in. Then he showed them some exercises they can do to warm themselves up, especially how to get rid of adrenaline and relax your nerves.

"Who's ever done any public speaking?"

Ivan talking about why public speaking is an important professional skill.
One way to de-stress - grab and release the edges of the chair a few times.
Showing the kids how to sing a little to warm up their voices. 
Different vocal exercises with crazy letter combinations. 
 After the students learned the basics, Ivan split them up into groups of 3 and assigned them random topics. Each participant had to improvise for 3 minutes about something easy like snow, chocolate, grass, shops, love, cups, cars, etc. The other members of their group gave them feedback about the pros and cons of their mini presentations, such as recommendations on how they could improve their gestures for emphasis or eye contact. Then they repeated the improvisation exercise again, and most of the students said that they felt more confident speaking the second time.

Vitalik talking about cars. 
Dima pondering his topic. 
Yana speaking animatedly.
Anya giving her friends feedback on hand gestures. 
Lilia taking notes on her feedback. 
Even though our training only lasted 3 hours, that most of the participants felt like it improved their public speaking abilities and all of them loved Ivan's charismatic presentation. This is the last training that Ira and I will organize together at my school, so I'm glad that the students had the opportunity to work with Ivan and build their professional skills! If you'd like to learn more about Ivan and his trainings, you can check out his website (in Russian) at

Anya, Anya and Vitalik.
Tanya, Anya and Katya from the 8th grade.  
Anya, Lyuba, Yana and Tanya from the 8th grade. 
Elle, Lilia, Dima, Sasha, Dima, Dima and Misha from the 10th and 11th grades. 
Tanya, Dasha and Vladik. 
Dima, Misha, Ira and Yulia.
I can't believe I'm leaving my site next week to head to Kyiv and COS... but don't worry, I've still got a few things planned for a World AIDS Day project/presentation at my school!


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