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Author Offers Tips on Public Speaking to Culver Students

Author Offers Tips on Public Speaking to Culver Students

When you think about public speaking, do you get nervous? Are you confident? The very thought makes most people uncomfortable.

Yet public speaking Is such an important skill — one that deserves practice and attention. How do we become assured, poised speakers? Recently, Culver School students in grades 4, 5, and 6 learned about public speaking confidence from British author and voice artist Lizzie Waterworth.

Lizzie's book, How to Talk So People Will Listen: And Sound Confident (Even When You're Not), is a highly engaging, step-by-step text about how to reduce public speaking anxiety and increase confidence. Her presentation style was entertaining while she encouraged audience participation. Our thanks to the Des Plaines library and librarians Becky Keane and Stephanie Gelb for bringing Lizzie to our school on Jan. 11.

In her one-hour session with the students, Lizzie shared tips from her “toolbox” to remember when speaking to others:

  • Take a deep breath and imagine you are squeezing lemons to reduce tension.
  • Keep your head up and make eye contact with your audience.
  • Maintain a firm stance, both feet on the ground, arms down.
  • Smile.

Students formed small groups and created their own video-game creature or book monster. Then, a few groups presented their new creations. Already, we could see students using their tools!

Teachers talked with their students after the presentation, and the students just wanted more. Mrs. Masini shared, “I've heard such great things about the author's visit! One student told me, ‘Today I learned how to be confident!’"

Lizzie taught the students a rap they can recite before any presentation. Mrs. Mennella commented, “I'm sure the kids would be interested in hearing more, and we can practice that rap she said two times during the assembly. There are great little tips in there we can recite before they present in class!”

Mrs. Byrne stated, “My students really enjoyed the presentation and are excited to use some of her tips for their presentations later today!”

Several students are purchasing books through Booked, an independent bookstore in Evanston. Based on Lizzie’s session, they should find it entertaining and useful.

Before the presentation, Culver Principal Dr. Smolinski talked with two students, who said, “We are so excited to hear the author speak tomorrow. We have never seen an author before.” During the presentation, the overwhelming majority of students raised hands to show they had never heard from or met a published author.

After the presentation, Lizzie talked with students who had questions or just wanted to connect. She also signed student books, pieces of paper and for the first time, she signed a student’s shoe!

This was such a valuable, rewarding opportunity for our staff and students.