Making sure grade 7 students stay alert and engaged is a daunting task. Luckily, I picked up a skill when I worked on cruise ships: remembering students names! I warned them. ‘If I remember your name, it is not a good thing :). It means I can call on you anytime. This is a great way to keep a group of teens hooked! I promised 5 tips. Here are the last three plus a little something from the teacher…

Each week, a lesson was shared allowing the students to add a layer to their speaking skills repertoire. Our role was to compliment the existing curriculum. We gave the students life skills they can carry with them through their schooling and work life. Week one through three gave the students a base to work with:

Week 4 – Evaluating: what did you think?

Sharing with a friend, classmate or even parents what you think can me intimidating. What will they think or will they even care? A famous speaker once said:  there are always 3 speeches:
the One they wrote, the One they gave and the One they thought about on the way home. Effective feedback allows a person to be better, improve their self-esteem and practice the skill. Here are some of the ways you can start off:

  • Sandwich method: tell the person 1 think you liked, one thing you would like to see improvement and again one thing you liked.
  • Avoid saying ‘great job’ – it doesn’t mean anything. There is no substance. You need to give them concrete things to think about (structure, vocal variety, body language…).
  • Remember to speak for yourself, what you actually thought of the speech. Personalize your language: ‘I felt…’ or ‘I liked the way…’ or ‘I felt like you…’

Week 5 – Pausing has power

Someone once told me filler words were not such a big deal. I beg to differ. Until you realize you are doing it A LOT, you can’t take care of it. Playing a fun game with the class let them to want to count their classmates filler words. We went from 150 on the first to about 90 at the end of the session. Not a radical improvement but a great effort!

  • Pauses replace the filler words (um, ah, like, like you know, but, and…). When you feel one coming on, just STOP!
  • Pause before you begin. Create anticipation.
  • Pausing allows you to think of your next point. It allows your audience to reflect on the material and you look like a leader. You appear in control. You gain credibility. People will want to listen to you.

During the course of the six sessions, every student needed to prepare a 2-3 minute speech, answer an impromptu question and do an evaluation. Each student delivered beautifully! Within the class we discovered a future stand up comic (I had some competition), a scientist and many with passions (at a young age). Their energy and enthusiasm were contagious. Having the support of the teacher, Rosemary Hill was a gift. She gave me the gift of this testimonial:

‘Teaching (Sec 1) at BHS Beaconsfield High School (BHS), I had the privilege to work with Toastmasters’ Nathalie Mailhot. She was relentless in her approach. She empowered students to improve their presentation skills and develop confidence speaking in public. It’s always rewarding to see smiles on students’ faces while acquiring useful knowledge.

Her obvious skills with children motivate me to write about her enthusiasm and convictions, and to impress upon you just how grateful we all are here BHS for the services rendered by Nathalie and her team.

I sincerely hope that this testimonial letter will encourage others to benefit from Nathalie’s remarkable talent as much as we did. Do not be surprised if you see bright eyes and hear laughter every time she is at work!

Thank you Nathalie for your kind heart and loving spirit.

Sincerely yours,
Rosemary Hill’

Speaking…it’s within who we are. It is our essence. It is our core. It changes lives

When we do it (speak), we change lives. Ours and theirs.



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