Presentations: It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

One of the most critical life skills we can help students develop is their ability to communicate their work products and thoughts effectively in verbal presentations. Thanks to today’s text-driven society, their ability to communicate effectively for presentations–or even to intelligently converse–is quickly becoming a lost art form.

We can develop the most beautiful lesson, have the greatest students, introduce the coolest resources, facilitate the most engaging lesson or process in which students are researching to create a presentation…and then have it all fall flat as a pancake when students reluctantly get up in front of their peers and read their slides monotone and verbatim.

Unfortunately, the skills required for an effective oral presentation only come naturally to a few students. Most of our kids have to be explicitly taught the components for a good presentation. We forget this, as adults. Just as we weren’t born understanding how to present topics well, our students need to be taught those skills as well. We must teach it, and planning to assess it is the most effective way to ensure that we teach it.

The following resources are a starting point for coaching students to deliver effective oral presentations:

ReadWriteThink. Appropriate for grades 3-12, this page includes ideas for explicitly teaching public speaking as well as suggested lessons for applying this knowledge. I like that this site because it also includes a variety of suggestions and practical ideas in addition to the printable rubric.

University of Wisconsin Sample Scoring Rubrics for Presentations. This links directly to a Word document that includes four sample rubrics, all of which can be easily tailored to your lessons.

iRubric. This rubric resource is my favorite because it is both editable and embeddable, and because it includes soft skills like eye contact, gestures, visual aids, posture, etc.

Regardless of how we choose to teach and evaluate, it’s essential for us as instructional partners and leaders to help our students learn the academic value of the phrase “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

Author: Michelle Wilson

With 16 year of experience as a school librarian, Michelle has served students and teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She is a past President of Alabama School Library Association, has served as Region V Director for AASL, and currently chairs the Alabama Virtual Library Executive Council. A National Board Certified Teacher, adjunct professor for the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies, and graduate student pursuing a PhD in Instructional Leadership/Technology, she is always eager to discover and share the latest trends in school librarianship. Michelle is very passionate about her work as a school librarian at Helena High School in the Birmingham, Alabama area.

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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