I am a communications teacher who is always looking for interactive exercises to get my (often anxious) college students engaged and learning about the power of effective public speaking.

by Lena

I teach a public speaking course that is the sole required communications course for many of my technically-oriented students (including chemistry, IT, and health science majors).

I'm a strong believer in the fact that reducing public speaking anxiety has much to do with simply getting accustomed to being in front of the room more often than not.

As much as they grumble, my students usually write in their end-of-semester class evaluations how much they enjoy what I call 'Morning chats', where I call 2-3 students to the front of class in the few minutes immediately before class starts. They are encouraged to "get comfortable" (drink their coffee, perch on my desk, etc.) as students are trickling in. Sure enough, their body language signals to me how quickly become comfortable with their new perspective at the front of the room as they chat with one another and with their classmates who are entering.

Once class starts, they are asked a 'light' (and ungraded) question to kick class off. The question is either from me, or from any classmates who wish to do the questioning.

Our morning chats go to show how part of the fear of public speaking has to do with peoples' unfamiliarity with simply 'being in front'- after just minutes of standing in front of their peers, these students actually seem to enjoy their new space.

I like to think they remember this feeling when approaching the front of the room for their upcoming graded speeches throughout the semester!

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