Public speaking tips from renowned Jewish personality

At the heart of teaching is the daily practice of public speaking. A masterful educator who also masters public speaking can have his or her students rapt attention. And a weak speaker, no matter how hard he or she prepares the lessons, will be less effective in the classroom.

That’s why we welcomed Rabbi Henoch Plotnik for our first professional development class of this school year, together with Walder Education, to offer public speaking tips to ATT rebbeim. Rabbi Plotnik is a rebbe at Yeshivas Kesser Yonah and a popular speaker in our community and U.S. cities.

The fast-paced class for rebbeim of all grades presented numerous strategies to give effective presentations in a public/classroom setting.

Rabbi Plotnik shared tips for engaging content and professionalism:

Maintain perspective – always remember who your audience is and plan accordingly.

Prepare – one can never prepare “too much.” Be clear on the language and be sensitive to every individual present. Have citations clearly available and never misquote pesukim or Chazal.

Be clear – Ask yourself, “Is the message clear?” Try to emphasize at least one powerful line.

Be effective – Try to make your content personal. Responsibly use the technique of name and place dropping. Above all, don’t fake it – your audience can tell.

Remember, the speech starts early – people notice your image and posture, even before you start speaking. Wait for order, dress appropriately, and be physically comfortable yourself.

Watch your words

  • Avoid “um” and quaint expressions. Not everything is amazing and unbelievable.
  • Keep introduction short and attention grabbing.
  • Translate, translate, translate.
  • Keep stories and parables relevant.
  • Keep it short. 12-minute segments are most effective to maintain the audience attention span.
  • End once and once only.
  • Leave with a call to action to the audience!

Miscellaneous strategies

  • Use voice inflection and animation.
  • Be careful with media and handouts – make sure that the technology works if you are using technology.
  • Know the room – make sure you will be audible.
  • Keep things simple, not actuarial.
  • Pay attention to previous speakers so you do not repeat messages.
  • Remember – the speech/presentation ends after you sit down.

The presentation was a model of what public speaking should be. Everyone who attended was entertained and enlightened. More importantly, rebbeim left excited to try the skills in their classrooms.

This class is among dozens of professional development classes the ATT offers to Judaic and general studies teachers each semester.