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Speak Like Sparky

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Resources for K-12 Developing Public Speakers

The Speak Like Sparky community public speaking program focuses on helping young people become more confident self-advocates through positive verbal and non-verbal public speaking behaviors.  CommLabASU is dedicated to helping young people become confident public speakers.  We welcome community groups to visit our lab and allow young people to practice and prepare to be the leaders of tomorrow.  Guided by standards outlined by the Arizona Department of Education, the College Board, and the National Communication Association, the Speak Like Sparky program utilizes the acronym SPARKY to help students remember the steps to better public speaking.

If you are interested in receiving our SPARKY bookmarks or bringing your group, club, or team to our campus for a practice session, please contact CommLabASU or contact Bonnie Wentzel, Executive Director, CommLabASU.

Speak Like Sparky Resources

Speak like Sparky was designed for students, just like you, who are developing their public speaking skills. You'll see with a little preparation, practice, and positivity, you can develop into a terrific speaker.
You have important things to say, big problems to solve, and lessons to teach, so let's get busy!


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Stay Calm

Did you know that being nervous is a normal part of public speaking?
The nerves you feel can either help or hurt you during a presentation, depending on how you use them. The moment you hear that you will be giving a presentation, you must remind yourself that everything will be okay. You must remind yourself that you will be great!

  • It's okay to be nervous (most people feel this!)
  • #1 fear in the United States, even more feared than death!
  • Think about where your nerves come from.
  • This worry can help to fuel your speech, making it even better.

Prepare and Practice

The first step to creating a great speech is preparation.

  • Prepare by knowing your subject well. A good way to know more about your subject is by asking the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
  • Don't forget to read the directions for your assignment! These will tell you what your teacher is expecting you to cover during your presentation.
  • Decide how you will present your topic. Questions to ask yourself: Will you be using any props? Are you going to use PowerPoint? Is a poster the best way to show your information?
  • Remember: If you're going to use any of these options, make sure to complete them before your presentation. Make them neat.

Practicing is the next important key to a great speech. You don't want to memorize your speech word for word, but you should know your presentation well enough so that you can move from one point to the next.

  • You want to practice your speech/presentation at least 2-3 times before you deliver it in class.
  • Practicing in front of people is a good way to start. Ask your friends, parents, or siblings to listen to your presentation. They can give you tips about your presentation and how you can make it better.
  • Another great way to practice is by recording your presentation. Use a video camera, your computer, or a cell phone to record your presentation so that you can see and hear yourself. This way you can see that you are doing a good job and notice areas where you can improve.
  • Practicing in front of the mirror is helpful if you can't practice in front of others or record yourself.
  • Make sure you know how to pronounce all of the words you want to use! Not sure how to say a word? Try

Consider Your Audience

Keeping your audience in mind is very important when creating a speech. They are the REASON you are speaking! By the end of your presentation, you want your audience to know more than they did before you started.

  • Think about adding something to your presentation that will grab your audience's attention. Remember, it must relate to your topic.
  • Make your presentation interesting! Aside from teaching your audience something new, you want to make sure they are entertained and enjoy your presentation.
  • Make sure your speech is organized. You don't want to lose your audience half way through the speech because you jumped from one point to the next.
  • Think about what kind of presentation you would like to see if you were in the audience.

Rock Your Non-Verbals

During a presentation, your non-verbal communication is important. Your non-verbals are ways of communicating that don't include words such as: eye contact, posture, hand movements, and facial expressions.

  • Make eye contact with your audience! If you're too nervous to look at your audience, pick three points in the room that you can focus on during your presentation. Avoid looking at your paper!
  • Stand up straight. This will let your classmates know you are comfortable and confident giving this presentation.

Keep Breathing

It's the big day to present your speech! Remember, sometimes when we feel nervous we forget to breathe. You need air to energize your voice and to calm your nerves.

  • Take a deep breath before your presentation.
  • Use pauses to breath and calm your nerves.
  • Breathe casually; make sure not to take HUGE breaths that will be noticeable to your audience.

Be Yourself

Think about your favorite teacher. Why do you pay attention to them? Chances are what makes them great is they are passionate and speak from the heart. By being yourself, you will bring that same spark to your next presentation.

  • Speak from the heart as well as your head.
  • Don't try to use someone else's speaking style.
  • Express your ideas clearly.
  • Be enthusiastic. This means smiling, making eye contact, and using your non-verbal communication in a positive way.
  • Care about your topic – if you care, then your audience will care.