Communication is a very undervalued skill in many respects. People think it’s easy to talk and chat with people. Still, you undoubtedly must have, at one point or another, struggled with communicating with others; to express your ideas concisely and thoroughly? If you are here, looking for articles like this, you certainly must have thought so at some point!
Welcome, dear reader, as we will teach you the broadest overview of speech classes in high school, and whether it is worth your time and elective credits to take one, even if you don’t have an interest in taking a dedicated career in communications in the future!
What is a High School Speech Class?
A speech class is, simply put, any course that focuses on training and teaching students how to give a presentation speech, including how to present their topic and audibly announce it to a crowd of people, whether it be the students also attending the class or a group of strangers.
What Do They Teach in Speech Class?
Speech classes primarily focus on teaching the students the ins and outs of public speaking for high school students. Communication is a broad subject with many different formats, including body language and written language. Still, speech classes specifically deal with how students can deliver speeches to crowds, script out their address, and say it with confidence about literally anything.
Do you want to talk about your favorite video game? A speech class will help you understand how to get your audience interested in what you are talking about. Do you possess a strong opinion on a serious and controversial political topic or current event? A speech class will teach you how to express yourself in the least offensive way to the most significant number of people or turn you into a politician with how much high-minded rhetoric and inspirational words and tone you would use.
A typical semester will generally have you develop rudimentary skills, such as techniques to keep a consistent tone, which tones you should use when speaking, minimizing stress and panic when talking to a crowd, and directing the tone and volume of your voice when appropriate. The introduction class will likely have you focus on one topic of your choice and limit the crowd to the other students attending the class. Advanced classes may have you perform this multiple times, over various topics, and even work together with other students.
Be warned that there is no escape from the public speaking aspect—so if you have a legitimate medical reason for being unable to do so, this class may not be able to help you!
But let’s say you are not particularly enthused about speaking to a crowd, or maybe you think this skill set is excessive and you have no real reason to take a speech class when there are so many other electives to take! So why, you ask, should any high school student take a speech class?
Why High School Students Take Speech Class?
It is likely that a speech class is a requirement for a high school student anyway, likely owing to your social sciences credit, like economics and political science. In my experience, it was a class I was required to take, and I do not regret it. But other schools and boards of educations may reserve the class for electives.
Generally, communications classes are based on social interactions. While you will be expected to do things like research a topic and write down a script to formulate your speech properly, the objective of a speech class is to present yourself to your audience without the aid of cue cards or scripts.
But that’s just why any other high school students take a speech class. Why should you take one, is the big question here!
Should I Take a Speech Class in High School?
So, there is the big question: should you, dear reader, take a speech class? This decision will depend on a lot of different, varied factors.
Communication as a practice may not be beneficial to many students who are not explicitly on a pathway specifically dealing with communication or public speaking, including careers like journalism or reporting. That is to say; you can get through most other careers without being a master orator. For example, if you are in computer science, you probably don’t even need to use your voice: just send all your comments (and complaints) over an email or within your computer code. Speaking as a career skill is reserved for jobs such as car salespeople and politicians.
But the value of communication isn’t strictly about what looks good on a resume or what is necessary for a job. Regardless of where you go or what you do, you will have to communicate with somebody. It could be speaking with authority, like the police or your teachers. It could be chatting it up with friends and family.
You don’t need to have to live a life of speaking to a crowd, rousing millions with your rhetoric to justify having an advanced ability to talk to others. Even just passing these classes will give you a better understanding of controlling your voice. You can reduce the cases of having to yell or repeat yourself, and how to say something with confidence and avoid pitiful nights wondering if you said the wrong thing to your crush. If you are feeling really naughty, you can use these skills even to lie convincingly or get people to listen to you, at the very least.
In general, yes, you should take a speech class in high school. As stated before, communication is a very undervalued skill. You will not only have a clearer idea of how to speak in public, but you will have an advantage over those who stutter and shut down in the face of a crowd and over people who your confidence in using these techniques will utterly sway.
So then, there is only one more question you have in mind: how do you even pass your speech class?
How to Ace Your High School Speech Class?
You want to ace your high school speech class? Well, luckily for you, we have just a few tips for giving a speech in class that will help you thoroughly master your classes. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you can make use of these tips outside of the classroom too!
Stay Steady and Focused
The hardest part about speaking to a crowd is that you must both maintain their attention and pay attention to them. This is the part where body language does matter, as you will captivate your audience through eye contact and a steady body. How do you meet eye-to-eye with several people at once? Here’s a tip: you don’t have to! Choose a point in the audience that you can pay attention to give the impression that you are focusing hard on the crowd. You should also scan the room and area to make it clear that what you are saying is addressed to everyone in the room.
Avoid Filler Words
People usually pepper their speech with “filler words” when they cannot come up with what they want to say. Words like “um” or “like” (though, don’t confuse sentences such as “Like, for example…” with “I, like, know…”. The former is good, the latter is not!) are considered filler words. Ironically, if you are genuinely out of loss for words, not speaking is the way to go. The pause and gaps may be noticeable to others, but it gives the impression that you are thinking of what to say. Additionally, it may give your audience a second to fully collect what you have said earlier. Do not take too long in resuming; however: five seconds is about the maximum you should take to organize your thoughts—when time is up, just say something!
Don’t Second Guess Your Words
Even if you feel like you screw up the execution of your words, it always feels more awkward and noticeable when you try to fix it instead of moving on. Don’t worry if you misspeak and say even the opposite of what you mean; those are just words. A speech is more than the sum of the individual words you use, and what you truly mean will reach your audience if you feel confident enough in speaking. But you have to finish your speech for it all to make sense.
Don’t Panic: You Have Their Attention
Do not worry about the quality of the content. If you are good at speaking and communicating, you can make anything sound attractive to people. People are interested not in what the speech is about but how passionately the speaker talks about it. Do not fret if you believe your topic is uninteresting: pick a topic that you know you can talk about, even without a script!
Wrapping Things Up: Should I Take a Speech Class in High School?
Should you take a speech class in high school? Yes, absolutely! Taking a speech class is a bit out of the way for the average high school student, but that is only an advantage to most. Your communications experience will be helpful in and out of school, so you should take the initiative and put yourself into a speech class today! After a semester of a speech class, you will talk and communicate better than large swaths of people.