How to Be a Better Public Speaker (for Students)

By: Farheen, Viva Learn Content Contributor

Public speaking sucks. That’s just a fact. Alas, it’s a necessary evil: teachers can’t get enough of it, parents love seeing their kids on display, and – as I was told by my English teacher – out in the “real world,” it’s a multi-million dollar skill. Figures; all the things that are generally despised are good for you, like eating vegetables.

As much as I complain about it though, I’m not a bad public speaker, and that’s not because my speeches are particularly good or awe-inspiring but because, after years of observation, I’ve developed, what is termed “stage presence”. Of course, communicating worthwhile material is a fantastic idea but the way in which that material is communicated is, arguably, more important. If you can hold people’s attention for a longer period of time, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say, and that is the goal: to get people to listen to what you have to say.

So here’s how you do it:

  1. Realize that the audience hasn’t shown up to chuck tomatoes at you: There is no need to be afraid of the audience. They are there to listen to you and your ideas/views/opinions.
  2. Fake it till you make it: Walk on to the stage with confidence, even if you’d rather weep in a dark dingy corner. Look your audience in the eye and even try to smile before you begin speaking. The more confidence you exude, the more the audience will straighten their spines and become excited to hear what you have to say and hence, actually listen.
  3. Realize that you are a human being: What’s this? Dry lips, clammy hands, and a heart that’s probably accelerating at a pace that’s clearly not heathy? Good news! This proves that you are a human being and not a robot. Use this to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to employ hand gestures; don’t worry about stuttering every now and then; walk around a little bit; if you want to chuckle at a joke you’ve just made, even if the audience doesn’t, go for it! Make fun of yourself afterwards too if you like! This will help not only you loosen up and become more confident, but will establish you as a human being in front of the audience, not a robot: nobody wants to listen to an uptight, tight-lipped, monotonous droid. Would you?
  4. Tableaus are only cool in a play: Don’t freeze up if you forget a few words from your immaculately memorized speech. Turn it into a pause and make something up; no one will know as long as you say those words with confidence (remember: fake it till you make it). In fact, I’ve found, that it’s probably a good idea to not memorize your speech completely. Remember the key points and what you generally plan to say about them, but there’s no need to ingrain every single “and”, “therefore”, “you know what I’m saying?” in your brain: not doing so will give you a more natural speaking style thereby, establishing a more human presence on stage.
  5. Remember that you’re awesome: Refer to the above heading.
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Growing up Mobile

Mobile devices are a part of our everyday life – no doubt. Next time you are at the doctor’s office, at the mall, or on public transit, take a quick look around you. You’ll be amazed to see how many different people are on their smartphones and tablets.

We know how prevalent these technologies are, yet so many grapple with the impact they have on children. True, mobile devices can be distracting and a time waste when used on redundant activities for endless hours. But remember when the great debate was the impact of television watching, talking on the phone or even the Internet? Haha – yes! As new technologies grow in usage and popularity, it’s not unlike people to question the impacts on youth. However, there comes a time when we simply have to embrace the change at best and by doing so, hopefully we shed some light on positive uses of the new technology.

There is no real mystery as to why parents are concerned about smartphones, tablets and the like. Today, youth mostly use mobile devices for gaming. But, what if we prepare devices with educational apps, interactive digital books and quick links to resourceful and educational websites that kids can learn from and enjoy? Providing options for youth on their mobile devices other than games, is the first step to encouraging better usage.

Not sure what to download? Common Sense Media is an excellent resource with educational apps and website reviews by age and category. You can also check out the education category in the App Store and Google Play. As well, you can purchase digital versions of books from Amazon or Indigo for usually less than the physical copy.

Viva Learn will continue to include app and website reviews and tips on this blog so continue to visit!

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8 Easy Tips for Improving Your Grades

Failing, or close to failing a subject is not a fun situation. It can leave you feeling lost, discouraged, unmotivated and even worse – inadequate. Lucky enough, you have the ability to do better at anything you put your mind to. Maybe getting that A or B will not be the end result, but if you can say “I tried my best,” that too is success.

Here are several easy tips that can really help you get that grade up:

1. Let’s begin with the basics. Don’t skip classes – attend.

2.  If you don’t understand something, ask someone. First and foremost, ask your teacher for help and clarity. Friends and family members can also be very resourceful.

3. Complete all your homework. Once it is graded by your teacher, ask him or her how you can do better next time.

4. Listen for hints and suggestions from your teacher about assignment expectations or the types of questions that may show up on a test. Write down these tips and follow through! Not only may this get you better marks, but your teacher will notice the added effort.

5. As dreadful as it may feel at first, review the day’s lesson when you get home.

6. Be kind to your teachers and peers.

7. Go the extra mile when you can. For example, something as easy as raising your hand when the teacher asks for a volunteer or making sure your assignment is free of spelling and grammatical errors, can go a long way.

8. Be consistent. Good things don’t happen overnight. However, through ongoing effort and dedication you will notice a positive outcome and so will those around you.

9. Finally – don’t give up.

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. – Franklin D. Roosevelt