Public speaking rubric is a document or measurement scale that is used to test and measure a student’s public speaking technique. However, this form of measurement actually hinders people becoming better public speakers.
Today I’m going to talk to you about why Public Speaking Rubric is failing our students, and what we can do to ensure that our students become better public speakers.
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PUBLIC SPEAKING RUBRIC ASSUMES PUBLIC SPEAKING IS LIKE MATHS
Public Speaking Rubric assumes that public speaking is like mass. It creates a scale where we can measure public speaking technical ability.
We look at things like fluency and clarity, pace and flow, eye contact, posture, enthusiasm, length of speech, memorization etc.
We look at all of these different techniques of public speaking and we’re trying to find out whether the person is a good public speaker or not.
But as you would know from your own life and the talks that stayed with you, great public speaking isn’t necessarily about pace and flow, or about enthusiasm or the smaller techniques, it’s more about everything together and the message the person is trying to get across.
Public speaking is more like riding a bike than it is like math.
With math we can learn technique and we can learn that a certain problem has a certain solution and has a certain way we should get to that solution.
But with public speaking, just like riding a bike, there’s not this one problem with one answer.
Public speaking is more about the message than it is about the technique. If you don’t have anything meaningful to say, what’s the point of speaking anyway?
Rarely does the public speaking rubric measure message, audience engagement or the value the person brought to the audience. It just measures technique and stuff like that.
By treating public speaking like math we’re actually pulling the focus away from what public speaking is all about, which is getting message across and communicating effectively to our audience.
AN EXAMPLE WHERE PUBLIC SPEAKING RUBRIC FAILS
Below I’ve two examples of public speaking. One is an example from a toastmasters competition by very famous public speaking author/blogger (for whom I actually have a lot of respect). This is one of his toastmasters presentations where technique is basically flawless but when it comes to the overall speech and the depth of the speech and the way that it impacted your life it is actually not that significant.
Great technique, but not such a great speech when it comes to how it affects your life.
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But, then I’ve got a speech from a guy named William Kamkwamba who speaks broken english.
His speech is about how he was so poor he had to drop out of school. But he use the local library to learn about physics and the local scrap yard to get materials to build a windmill. This windmill revolutionised his life and his town.
Listening to his story gets you so inspired about what he achieved and what can be achieved in your own life.
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So, two different speeches – one with flawless technique andone with the boy who can barely speak English who doesn’t use flawless technique. You can see a dichotomy there where flawless technique doesn’t necessarily equal a better speech.
WHAT WE SHOULD BE TEACHING OUR STUDENTS
Public speaking is all about communication and when students obviously have major communication flaws (eg. you can’t understand what they’re saying or they keep saying ‘um’ and ‘aaah’) then those things can be dealt with over time
But they’re not the biggest issue in the world!
I think that the major issue is that we’re making the focus the technique rather than the communication.
So it’s not that the technique’s not important. It’s that we need to take technique away from the focus.
We shouldn’t bother measuring people on technique and say: “Well, your technique is flawless, therefore you’re a good public speaker.”
We need to look at the message that the students are bringing and teach our students to use critical thinking, to think outside of the box.
Teach them to take a topic and create a speech around that topic that inspires people, that engages people and that makes people think in different ways.
I believe that the field of public speaking exists to move the world forward and to move ides forward.
And if we are just teaching our students technique, but we’re not teaching them how to look at things from different angles, how to critically analyze things, how to present ideas in ways that stimulate their classmates.
While their public speaking technique might be great, their impact as an effective communicator will be poor because they don’t have anything meaningful to say.
So what should we be teaching our students?
We shouldn’t be measuring them on public speaking rubric and scales – we should be teaching them to create better messages to speak about.
What you’ll find is that the technique flows with that, and flows after that.
WHY TED TALKS WORK BETTER THAN TOASTMASTERS
Just want to close this off to say that I want to draw a comparison between TED talks and Toastmasters.
So TED talks are conferences that are held with thought leaders in their industries where they talk about what they’ve been doing. The Toastmasters organization is a public speaking organization to teach people how to become better public speakers.
The reason that TED talks have more attraction online, more of their videos are watched every single day than the Toastmasters presentations is because TED talks have something to talk about.
These are people who are leaders in their field, who are approaching the world in a different way than anyone else and thus they have a message worth saying.
When you look at Toastmasters, these are people who are technically great public speakers, but whether or not they have something worth talking about, whether they’re thought leaders or not, that’s left to be said.
Even though the people at TED might not be as great speakers they get more engagement because their message is more important.
So, think about that next time you go searching on the internet for Public Speaking Rubric Scales, and think about how you can better train your students to become a public speaker – not by teaching them technique but by teaching them how to deliver better messages.