Public Speaking Confidence Building Activities

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Public speaking is a challenge for many students, but often all they need is greater confidence. These activities will give students some unique ways to practice public speaking and build that confidence.

Confidence Building and Public Speaking

Public speaking may be one of the top fears shared by students and professionals alike. This rarely comes down to fluency in a language or lack of ideas but is instead, a reflection of confidence when speaking from a position of authority. These activities are designed to help students increase their self-confidence when speaking to an audience. Since public speaking is something that you are never too old or too young to practice, these activities are designed to be adaptable to nearly any age group.

Public Speaking Confidence Building Activities

Distance Speaking

Give each student a short passage to read, and give them a little time to rehearse. Students will read this passage aloud to the class but will do so from a great distance. This could either be a horizontal distance or if you have access to a roof or balcony, a vertical distance. The student will have to shout their presentation to be heard. Tell students not to worry too much about intonation, diction, or anything like that. The presentation doesn't have to sound good; it just has to be audible.

  • Materials: Short passages of reading material, physical space

Small Group Storytelling

Divide the class into small groups, and have each student draw a card with a random person, place, or object. Designate one person to go first. That person will have to start making an impromptu story that somehow features the thing on their card, presenting to the group for thirty seconds (or longer, if desired). At this point, switch to the next person clockwise in the group. This person has to pick up the same story where the first student left off but now incorporate the thing on their card into the story. The goal of this is to work on smooth transitions and confidence. Students' stories don't have to be logical or consistent. In fact, the more illogical they are, the funnier they tend to be.

  • Materials: Slips of paper with random things, clock/stopwatch


Give each student a passage to read. Ask students to look through the passage and find a word that occurs 7-10 times. Students will highlight all occurrences of that word. Each student will then draw a random word from a bowl. They will present their passage to the class or small group but will substitute the highlighted word with the random word as they speak.

  • Materials: Short reading passages, highlighters, slips of paper with random words

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