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What are some ways you can build confidence in public speaking, specifically for teaching?

I have around 7 years experience (or so) in tutoring, and I am pretty comfortable educating individuals and very small groups. However, I am considering pursuing an educators license and becoming a science teacher. I am not very confident in speaking in front of a group of more than 5 people at a time, I have tried classes, workshops and working individually with my professors to attempt to get better at this skill with no success. Are there other ways to boost confidence in this skill? Is this just an issue that will eventually get better in time? Are there teachers and professors on the site that had problems with public speaking but overcame them? If so, how?
Thank you!
#public-speaking #teacher-training #professor #teacher #environmental-science

Thank you comment icon Thank you both for your answers! I do not believe that there is a toastmaster group in my area, but I will definitely look into it. If there is none, I know there are people I can practice this skill with. I am not the most confident person, by any stretch of the imagination. Even in preparing for a speech until I can say it in my sleep, I tend to freeze up and loose it all in a second. Thank you for the wishes of good luck, and to the both of you for the answers! Ashley

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6 answers

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Nicole’s Answer

I have struggled with public speaking as well & realized that it is usually more difficult for me when I think that my message may not be well received or I'm speaking to a topic that I don't know inside out & backwards. Acknowledging that not everyone can always agree and no one knows everything made me a bit more comfortable.

Also, practice practice practice. Joanna's comment regarding a library or group is great - there may be some in education and science so it would also build a network of peers as you embark on becoming a science teacher. Try volunteering to speak at some of the 'easier' sessions (small audience, well known topic) and then work into some larger groups.

Best of luck ,

Thank you comment icon Nicole - Your answer is great. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise with Ashley! At this moment there are more than 1k unanswered questions so I want to encourage you to keep going! So many students will benefit tremendously from hearing from you. Keep up the great work! Jordan Rivera, Admin COACH
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your answer! These are definitely things I will keep in mind next time I am in front of an audience, it is good to know that I am not the only one to feel this way. Thank you, again! Ashley
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Jennifer’s Answer

I found that I needed to find my confidence and I was able to join a toastmaster group, but if you don’t have one in your area you can practice with a group of friends.

Start by writing a 3-5 minute speech and have someone record it for you and a second person serve as the time keeper. They will hold up a green card once you get to the 3 minute mark yellow card once you are at the 4 minute mark and a red card 30 seconds before your time is up.

Review the video and ask for feedback. We would have blind feedback to be read in private when the presenter would watch their own speech. We would also have someone count the amount of times the person giving the speech said “UM” or “AH” and have a contest for the person the with least amount or the most improved from the prior month.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your answer! I will look into Toastmatser groups, and even if I am unable to find any I am certain my friends will be more than willing to help me become better at this skill. Ashley
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Joanna’s Answer

I don't like public speaking either, however I always got chosen to do group presentations because I was "good at it".

I would recommend speaking in front of a camera, then playing it back to see how it went. You can ID areas you wish to improve this way.

Review your material so you feel confident in your knowledge.

Consider joining a group at a library or community center where you can speak infront of larger groups, even if it just reading to kids! The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your answer! I'm rarely picked anymore for the group presentations for the reason they know how much I hate it, and how bad I think I am at it. I will definitely look into the reading, I'm a little hesitant towards the recording. I'll still give it a try. Thank you again! Ashley
Thank you comment icon Ashley, other than knowing your material, practice and confidence are most important. In the past I have joined Toastmasters clubs with great success. Here, everyone is there to improve their speaking skills, and they are supportive to help each other do so. There is a structured program to build your skills and confidence while getting constructive feedback from your peers. You will unlearn bad habits (e.g. um.. . ) as well as learn different types of presentations including impromptu speaking. Find a Toastmaster club near you. If you can visit a few to see where you fit best. Best of luck in your teaching career. Rand Hein
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your answer! I have been hearing good things about the Toastmaster's clubs, I really need to look into them. Thank you again! Ashley
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David’s Answer

Ashley, great question and one that can and will be debated for years. I am one of those people that can talk to anyone. I found that being more open to others and just striking up a conversation with anyone helps a great deal. Everyone has a different trick to speaking in front of large groups. Some use comedy as a tool to help relax, others practice in front of a mirror, and then some just wing it. When I am prepared and know the material I am presenting I am super confident. Best solution is practice, yes, practice makes perfect and the more you do it the easier it becomes. Best of luck and keep a positive outlook on any presentation you do.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your answer! Ashley
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Jason’s Answer

I would add... Being vulnerable is a great quality in a public speaker and will actually put you more at ease. As presenters or public speakers, we get so nervous about being perfect. So if you learn to let that go, you will have a much better time- and also relate better to your audience. This includes:
Tell more personal stories about a time when you may have struggled
Talk about your own growth mindset
Admit when you make a mistake
Mention that you encourage input, and feedback, and other points of view
Thank others for contributing
Be open when someone disagrees
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Brian’s Answer

Hey Ashley,

Good on you for acknowledging that you need some help to take that next step to get your goal. I have an answer for you. I know it will sound weird, but trust me on this.

Toastmasters. No question. 100% this is what you need. They have youth speech programs and then regular clubs when you turn 18.

It's a non-profit that is dedicated to the craft of speaking in front of groups and they have been helping people get past the same hurdle you have for decades. It's the kind of thing you can ease yourself into, too. You start by checking out a club and finding one that feels right to you. Once you have the feel of things, maybe you take on a small speaking role, like the timer. Your job is just to time things for the meeting and report on it at the end. There are a lot of speaking opportunities, and, with the help of a mentor, you work your way up from small 30 second ones to whole 5-7 minute speeches. And all of it is in a very supportive environment.

I know the name sounds like something your grandpa would be in, but when I used to do this, we had people from 18 all the way to well past retirement in our clubs. And the speeches they shared were always entertaining.

Best of luck!

Brian recommends the following next steps:

Go to
Find some clubs near you
If you are under 18, ask about youth programs they might be willing to run
If you are 18+ set up some club visits