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Enhance Your Public Speaking Skills for Success in Your Teaching Job

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Let's face it: a job in education means lots of speaking in public. I've taught a class or two myself, and if you can't speak well in public, you can't teach. Even education administrators need to be able to address the public, or at least a large group. In fact, that might even be more important for your institution if you have to try to get a larger budget.

So public speaking is crucial, whether you are trying to convince a crowd of bored students of the importance of the Pythagorean theorem or explaining why the physics department should get an extra 25% in the budget this next academic year.

The easiest place to start is by improving your natural abilities. If you control your natural abilities, or enhance them, you become much more effective. Factors such as breath, posture, pitch, resonance, and volume can all be developed with practice.


  1. Breathe properly — no hyperventilating or panicked breathing.

  2. Stand straight, but not stiff, with your shoulders back and your chin up. Walking around can show nervousness as well, unless there’s a good point to it. At the same time, standing there like a board isn’t the best idea either.

  3. Hold your stomach in and use your diaphragm to support your sound. Don’t use sheer lung power. It won’t work very well.

  4. When sitting and speaking, keep your legs un-crossed and your feet flat on the floor.

  5. Use a comfortable, low pitch as the basis for your speaking voice. Screeching is a definite no-no.

  1. Slouch. If you aren’t interested, why should your listeners be?

  2. Take deep breaths. It makes you seem nervous.

  3. Shout and strain your voice — that’s a great way to lose it.

  4. Tense your chest or throat — it makes it hard to speak.

  5. Tense your lips, tongue, or jaw (see above).
Some Practice Exercises


  • Inhale, relaxing your belly muscles. Feel as though your belly is filling with air.

  • After filling your belly, keep inhaling. Fill up the middle of your chest. Feel your chest and rib cage expand.

  • Hold the breath in for a moment.

  • Begin to exhale as slowly as possible. As you begin to slowly exhale, make a humming sound.

  • Keep making the humming sound as long as possible.

  • Pull your stomach muscles in, squeezing out a few more seconds of humming.

  • Relax and repeat several times over three to five minutes.

  • Of course, don’t do this during a speech! (Or at least not the hum.

  • Yawn. Feel how your tongue is down in the back of your mouth and your throat wide open.

  • Practice reproducing the position of your tongue and shape of your throat without yawning.

  • Once you are able to assume the ''yawn position,'' start singing vowel sounds, particularly ''a,'' ''o,'' and ''u.''

  • With your throat open as described above, read the following sentences, prolonging the vowel sounds:
  • ''Who are you?''
  • ''Over the rolling waters go.''
  • ''Oh for boyhood’s time of June, crowding years in one brief moon.''
Some of these tips come from Ian McKenzie. But the mechanics of speaking are important; mastering them will help you project much more confidence in your speaking. And confidence helps convince.
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