Oral communication has been a primary means of sharing information since mankind developed language. Because of the innate nature of speaking, many educators operate under the assumption that students enter the classroom with the skills necessary to competently employ speaking and listening skills; however, this is not the case. If students are to speak effectively, schools must teach them to do so.
In his book, Well Spoken: Teaching Speaking Skills to All Students, Erik Palmer suggests using a school-wide framework for improving student speaking skills. The framework consists of a mnemonic – PV LEGS – to help students understand the important elements of effective communication:
- P – Poise – Appear calm and confident. Help students identify and eliminate those things that make a speaker appear nervous, such as repeated words, tugging at sleeves, fidgeting, and similar behaviors.
- V – Voice – Make every word heard. Help students understand the importance of projection and articulation.
- L – Life – Put passion into your voice. The energy supplied by vocal inflection can dramatically improve the impact of a speech. Help students improve by providing them with a few sentences to practice with their classmates.
- E – Eye Contact – Visually engage each listener. Eye contact invites others to be present in the experience and actively engage in listening.
- G – Gestures – Make motions match your words. Nonverbal communication cues can further enhance a speech and make it more appealing for audience members.
- Speed – Adjust your pace for a powerful performance. Provide students with examples of powerful speeches and note the changes in speed employed by the speakers.
Think about how PV LEGS might be incorporated into your classroom and prepare a few opportunities for students to practice and improve. Your students will become better speakers because of your efforts!