Power Speaking = Confident Students!

I'm sure you've all heard that public speaking is considered the biggest fear of the average person. Although usually a pretty LOUD person (so I was always told by my family), get me in front of a group of people and I (used to) become paralyzed.
My fear was so great that in 7th grade, I MADE my best friend, Janet, give MY oral report in front of our English class! I gave her my notecards and stood NEXT to her, while she read my notes! My teacher had told me beforehand that she could do it but my grade would be lowered. I didn't care; I'd rather take the lower grade than publicly speak! 
That incident made me angry at how ridiculous I acted though, so in 9th grade, I forced myself to enter a speech contest! Of all things! All I remember was standing up, then sitting back down. I don't remember the speech at all! Then surprise of all surprises: I won 3rd place! Hmmm. . . maybe I wasn't as awful as I had anticipated.

Fast forward to my early 20's when I began teaching. I never had a problem speaking to children, even a roomful of them! But my District starting asking me to give workshops to other teachers and I KNEW I had to do something to overcome my fear! I signed up for a series of self-growth workshops where in each session, every participant had to give a speech (I think it was only 1-2 minutes long, but it felt like FOREVER!!), while they were videotaped. Then everyone in the workshop watched each video and gave constructive criticism. Truthfully, I literally wanted to throw up each morning of the workshop and tried making excuses to myself for why I couldn't go that day. However, I made it through and gained valuable insight into how I present myself in front of others.

Loooong story to make my point: learning to speak and clearly convey your thoughts in front of others is a crucial skill! One of my college roommates' mother, Pauline Binkley was a veteran kindergarten teacher. She also knew how important public speaking was, beginning at a young age.
After attending a PowerSpeaking® seminar for adult sales associates, she had the idea to modify the program for children and created PowerSpeaking® for Kids with the original PowerSpeaking® team.
Most of us are born with the "tools" to be effective speakers: our legs, eyes, arms, and voice. PowerSpeaking® for Kids introduces each skill/lesson with fun practice. It was a "big book" divided into lessons such as: Plant Both Feet and Look at Your Audience (eye contact), Conquering Fear, Use Large Gestures, Project Your Voice, etc. There are large illustrations (drawn by a newspaper cartoonist) that clearly make the point of each lesson.
I first started using PowerSpeaking® for Kids many years ago when I taught a predominately  English language learner population of first and second graders. It was incredible to watch my students by the end of the year. They would confidently walk to the front of the room, plant both feet, then articulately give a short talk. Since then, I have used it with every grade and every type of student, always with the same positive results.
One of their favorite lessons is learning to project their voice. Speaking in front of a sound-activated flower, it will dance if the speaker's volume is loud enough or it stays still if they are too quiet or mumbling. You should see how intently the kids watch the flower! A little gimmicky, but very effective to get kids to turn up their volume! You can purchase the flower here.
This student was rather shy in fourth grade; she later became our Student Body President in eighth grade. She led school-wide assemblies with ease and was a very effective speaker. She's now a successful high school student!

I just spoke with the teacher-author, Pauline Binkley to see if I could order another copy of PowerSpeaking® for Kids; mine is so tattered and worn. No wonder! She wrote the original PowerSpeaking® for Kids 20 years ago!! Although no longer in print as a big book, it IS available now as an e-book, which is perfect to project onto your screen or Smartboard!! You can purchase a copy here.

I've had students come back to visit me years later, and they often will say they still use their PowerSpeaking® for Kids ground rules! I love what a lasting impact this has made! What do you do to teach public speaking?


  1. OMG I LOVE this. The quote you have at the beginning of the post is SO powerful. I saw you send me a message through Instagram....I WANT this book.

    Love your posts.

    1. Kelly, when the author said she had Spanish books, you're the first person I thought of!! You will LOVE Power Speaking! I'll email you separately!