Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Confidence building

One of my aims over the last couple of weeks has been to get more pupils presenting their work to the class. I think it is important the young people develop the confidence to stand in front of an audience and present their ideas to peers whilst improving their speaking and listening skills and developing a good understanding of what makes an effective presentation. Confidence develops through many experiences, because of my background I think I always favour the Duke of Edinburgh character building style activities, but the classroom environment can certainly play its part. At the end of the day it is often these skills and confidence in your own ability that get you places in life and can be overlooked in the rush for good grades. I’ve certainly found that the confidence I developed at school has played an enormous part in getting me the jobs and opportunities that I’ve been lucky to experience. This article sums it up quite well.

One step at a time..... presenting at TED.

A key barrier with the presentation has been trying to encourage all members of the class to consider speaking. It usually turns out to be the same keen (but very articulate) pupils volunteering. So how to tackle this? One recommendation from a colleague is to get everyone to present in the class so there is no option involved. If you set the ground rules for how the presentations will be given and received e.g people need to listen quietly and be respectful, but also think about the feedback  they will give the speaker after each presentation. 

I’ve tried the bribery option with chocolate which encouraged a reasonable turnout. I would also like to start with group presentations and then work down to solo presentations to build up confidence gradually. All of this involves trying things out over time, hopefully something I can focus on next year.

A few ideas in preparing and presenting that I want to focus on:

  •          Develop peer review questioning: Provide a clear outline and success criteria of what questions pupils need to consider.
  •          Giving good examples of effective presentations and poor presentations and getting pupils to think of what works and what doesn’t work. This could help focus the effort on putting together the presentation and learning the topic as opposed to becoming bogged down with the tech. For example, quite a few of the year 9’s really got into using Prezi and although it was nice to see the interest and fascination I wondered if they spent too long on the tech to the detriment of the research they were doing on droughts. Perhaps use clips from TED talks or Youtube and get pupils to think about what the strengths and weaknesses of the presentation were.

      Keen to hear peoples suggestions/thoughts/ideas

*UPDATE: 24/5/2012*

The BBC published an article this morning about how the Labour Party wants to increase public speaking opportunities in state schools. I'd like to think they got the ideas after reading the blog post last night, but i'm not convinced ;-)

The article can be found here


  1. Maybe to build their confidence, you could start with classroom discussions. Check out I have used Philosophical Chairs this term and at the start I had the same 5 students talking in front of class but it grew over the period until the whole class were gutted when the bell rang

  2. Great ideas and website, good to hear that it can have the desired effect as well!

    Thanks again