Helping Students to Develop Presentation Skills

Show and Tell

As a young mom I was not familiar with the concept of “show and tell”. My eldest son was 4 years old at the time and he had to take a toy to school and show it to the class, tell them a little bit about it and answer the eager audience’s questions. I thought this is such a great idea to introduce children to the world of public speaking and presentations! After all, public speaking is not necessarily a talent, but a skill, and the younger a child is when they begin to learn this skill, the better.

Apart from being mom, I am also a sixth form teacher and am too well-aware that some students genuinely struggle when asked to present information to a group. I can see that this may be a problem when students go on to tertiary education and also later in life. For personal and professional success, effective presentation skills delivered in a confident manner are vital.

That is why presentation skills need to be nurtured from a young age, before the student really has an awareness of being in the spotlight and possibly being faced with stage fright. Public speaking and presentation skills could be fostered, to such an extent that it becomes a natural skill. “Show and tell” helps a child to prepare a talk about an abstract object rather than a familiar one, it helps to create an awareness of vocal projection and most importantly, it helps to build confidence.


By the time my second son had to do “show and tell”, we had perfected the practice! We progressed from showing (and telling about) favorite toys, to eventually using PowerPoint. By now, my sons were 8 and 10 and their confidence surprised their teachers. “Show and tell” helped to build their public speaking skills and helped them to feel comfortable with talking in front of a group of peers! However, they were also confident because every time that they were expected to present information to the class, they were well prepared. Confidence and preparation are crucial aspects for effective presentation!

My 7 year old daughter has to talk about her summer holidays in class soon. I know that if she is well prepared, she will feel confident and be able to do a good presentation. She was super excited when I suggested that she make a mysimpleshow video to introduce her holiday experience. Afterwards she will also show holiday photographs and talk about each of them. I know that if the presentation goes well, she will be more confident and keen to do a presentation when she gets her next spotlight topic.


When asked about the basics of speech making, my advice to students and parents is simple:

  1. Prepare the speech/presentation very well – plan carefully what you’ll say and use speech cards with highlighted keywords
  2. Practice the presentation a few times – if possible, do it in front of a test audience, like your family
  3. Pay attention to proper posture – be mindful of weird mannerisms that may distract the audience
  4. Make eye contact
  5. Speak loudly and clearly
  6. Be confident! If the audience senses that you are nervous, they will also be nervous

My advice to teachers?

If you are teaching little ones:

  • Keep the “show and tell” and spotlight going from a young age. It does wonders to build confidence!

If you are teaching older students:

  • Regularly include short student presentations in your classes to emphasize the basics of speech making
  • Suggest various ways to make presentations more interesting to an audience, like the use of objects or the showing of short video clips as part of the presentation.

Educators play a vital role in helping students to learn and experience public speaking. Leadership in the community, business world or any organization demands effective presentation skills. Leaders are expected to be able to make presentations without any qualms. So, let’s foster great presentation skills from a young age and right through our students’ school careers, to ensure that they acquire a skill that will be very useful to them throughout their lives.    

LGW Irvine is a secondary school teacher specializing in history, performing arts and languages. With a keen interest in writing, she has published Teacher Planners and an AFL Teacher Handbook. Among her presentations include in-depth courses in study methods and essay writing, as she has a particular interest in helping others to reach their full potential in those areas. Her current projects include History Revision Guides as well as Study Methods workbooks.

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