How to Help Your Student Speak with Conviction and Passion

No matter the age of your students, we all agree that the ability to speak with an inner strength and a sense of contagious excitement is a skill that will help anyone in their life. This skill is something we can teach and to do so, we must be aware of the foundational skills which must exist. Throughout my life I have had multiple mentors, most of whom encouraged me to speak, perform and teach with conviction and passion. What I have noticed in myself and others is that the following skills are necessary to build this internal fortitude.

Open Ended Questions

When we as questions which offer the student a plethora of responses, we build more than knowledge. We foster learning about learning; thinking about thinking. The greatest among us were and are great learners of life and thinkers of thoughts. If you’re not sure how to ask an open ended question, to any age student, start with using the word “Why?”

Facial Gesturing

We can ask a lot of questions with the spoken and written word. We can ask many more without any words. Ask yourself how often you use a facial gesture to encourage a student to be curious, persistent, thoughtful and many other ways of being. I encourage you to record yourself in the context of your day with students, with your own kids, and/or your employees. You might be very surprised. Many people have only two or three facial gestures, and they aren’t even aware that their facial gestures often don’t match what they are saying. If you’re wondering who does this really well, and who you could learn from, observe young children. Most are masters at this skill!

Invitations to Think

When we create invitations to think, we build bridges for ongoing relationships, trust, risk and eventually growth. Two primary ways to create invitations include, but are not limited to:

  • Using open ended questions

  • Actively connecting with others by using facial gesturing

I mention these first two steps in this context to help us all understand why we should be pushing our own envelope with regards to inviting others to think, grow and act.

Time for Response

Ahhhh…. Take a moment and embrace the silence. Actually not speaking and not letting your mind wander. Pretend a student, or anyone for that matter, is speaking to you. They’re speaking to you because you asked a great open ended question and you even used an authentic facial gesture that says something like, “go ahead, take your time… I want to know what you’re thinking.”

And quite often, in that golden moment of ripe intellectual opportunity, we open our mouths and start talking. We forget to allow enough time for the other person to respond.  What a shame! This is something I’ve become much better at and still work on. The dividends have been well worth the change!

All of that leads to: Authentic Dialogue

When two people, or a group of people, are engaged in authentic dialogue, they all feel like they are in a swimming pool throwing a beach ball around. It feels:

  • Playful

  • Engaging

  • Respectful because everyone is in the pool

  • Responsive because everyone has a chance to touch the beach ball

  • Refreshing because there is time, in the moment, to appreciate others

When Authentic Dialogue exists, many things become possible, including a student who:

  • Senses the internal and emotional strength to speak with conviction

  • Is empowered enough to identify and seek their passion

  • Begins to travel from being a student at school to a student of life

Simple Truths are like Simple Pleasures


Luke Hewlett