Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fear of Public Speaking

Veena is a girl of class VI. Her mind is no less than an active volcano-her ideas flow out like hot magma, , she has creative thoughts and comes up with numerous solutions to the problems in the society.  She is a courageous girl but there is something which is holding her back-her nervousness! She is afraid of speaking in public, raising her voice against the odds in the community.   There was an occasion in the school; pupils from each class were invited to give a speech at a school function. Veena wanted to take part in it, but her stage fear kept her from it.


There are so many Veenas in each school, who are willing to be a speaker, however, their nervousness is a thing of major concern. Need of the hour is to motivate and inspire the pupils. After all, it’s the duty of the teachers and parents to make their children overcome social anxiety. Teachers can share some great inspiring stories, videos of famous speakers, does and don’ts in a speech etc.

Elocution competition @ Red Cross Govt Girls High School
Whenever, I announce ‘elocution’ competition in the school, just two or three pupils sign up for it, or they convert it to essay writing. But for this Independence Day, I was seriously committed to draw more students to speak up. We’d taken a session prior to the competition, on ‘what is elocution?’ with does and don’ts. The YouTube videos shown to them were inspiring and made 35 students sign up for the competition (Link for the video). 

Common mistakes in elocution:

  • By-heart - Pupils often mug up the content of the speech, which leads to pauses in between in efforts to recollect.
  • Middle drop - Some pupils forget the content and drop the speech midway.
  • Appealing - some folks start to speak with full promise but fail to end the speech on a high note.
  • Voice – Non audible voice leads to poor grades, especially in rooms without a microphone.
  • Body language – pupils lean to the table with slightly crossed legs, fold their hands, which gives a poor gesture. Eye contact – pupils stare at pillars, windows, doors or some students will close their eyes, these show poor confidence levels of speakers.
  • Hesitation – when we call a pupil’s name, they request the teacher to postpone their number after two students. It shows their lack of readiness as a speaker.
  • Anxiety – Inspired students come with full enthusiasm, they start the speech with high pitch, however, the anxiety develops in them more than required, which leads to sweating and nervousness that makes them drop the speech abruptly.
  • Irrelevant – over confident students come without any preparation. Initially the speech may seem to be good, but later, they resort to irrelevant points in an attempt to make up for lack of ideas.
  • Imitate – some pupils have tried to imitate the girl shown in the video. However, it didn’t work after 30 seconds. They had to fall back on their individual styles. To learn from a motivational speech is good but we shouldn’t attempt to blindly copy and go against our unique approaches.
  • Statistics – gathering information about a topic needs a lot of homework. Statistical data, though difficult to remember at times, are important while substantiating a claim.
  • Time-limit – some students prepare so well that they go on speaking with no regards to the time limit. This causes the audience to get bored and lose interest.
  • Stage fear* –Stage Fear is common irrespective of whether it’s an LKG or a Ph.D student. It is quite prevalent in famous personalities as well. Even we teachers feel anxious while addressing a school gathering. There is no ointment for this fear, but practice and presence of mind.

Here are some snaps of the elocution competition:

Faseeha Noor, class-7; she is the first girl to come forward and initiate the competition.

Nikitha Bai, Class-X. She started her speech with high pitch and good diction. However, she dropped off in the middle owing to anxiety and nervousness.

Sony, Class-IX.

Shaima, Class-VIII. She gave a brief speech with good data.

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