February 26, 2015
From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.
Students in American schools learn from an early age to give presentations as part of their regular classroom activities. Children as young as five years old often give brief talks about objects they bring in to school - called "show and tell," this training is a basis for later public speaking.
Even so, many native English-speaking adults are afraid to speak or give presentations in front of a large group.
Speaking English in public meetings is necessary for many students and employees. The best way to improve is to practice public speaking in a friendly environment. Learners need to receive feedback about what they are doing well and about their mistakes. One group that gives members the chance to practice is Toastmasters.
Toastmasters is an international organization that holds weekly meetings. At the meetings, members each give a speech and give others advice about their speeches and speaking style.
Charles LeBeau is a public speaking professor and consultant. He began his career in Japan in 1982. Currently, he teaches at two universities and at the Toshiba International Training Center. He has also written books on the subject.
English language learners around the world use his book Speaking of Speech.
Speaking of Speech tells about a method of teaching public speaking for non-native speakers. Mr. LeBeau says a simple approach helps English learners.
"The approach that I've taken is to simplify and break it down. First if we look at presentation, what's going on, there are basically three messages that the presenter is giving the audience, all simultaneously. There's what I call the physical message. Physical message is basically body language. It's the way that my body, as a speaker, is talking to the audience. And then there's also the visual message. The visual message(s) are the slides that we now make and show the audience. The third message is the story message. The story message is the content of our presentation. So another way we can think of the story message is that it's the verbal message, it's what we say to the audience. The story message also includes how we organize our ideas to present to the audience," LeBeau said.
In the next ‘Speaking Tips' we will explore Charles LeBeau's recommendations for improving the Physical Message. He thinks this is the public speaking skill that is easiest for English learners to improve quickly.
I'm Jill Robbins.