How to Get Students Comfortable Speaking in Your Virtual Classroom

3. How can I get students talking?

It’s not just about getting students “talking”, it’s about how to get them talking about their authentic ideas and expressing their real selves. This can be difficult for students when classroom structures feel rigid, you run out of time, or are worried about how your peers will respond. The following resources can be integrated into your units and lessons to include flexible structures, student choice, ways to encourage self-expression and audience preparation:

  • Stories About Stories (Storytelling Guide Resource 3): The author tells her personal experiences with students and why stories can promote student self-expression.
  • Getting Stories Started: For Speakers (Storytelling Guide Resource 5): This one-pager contains 6 personal checkpoints to help speakers come up with ideas for stories.
  • Getting Stories Started: For Listeners (Storytelling Guide Resource 6): This one-pager contains 6 personal checkpoints to help people be better audience members when listening to stories.
  • Storytelling Speech Template (Storytelling Guide Resource 9): This format shows one way to weave stories into formal speeches that connect to broader messages.
  • Storytelling Rubric (Storytelling Guide Resource 16): This rubric can be used for a class project or giving feedback on storytelling as a whole.

4. What should I do in the first 10 minutes of class?

Routines, routines, routines. What are they now in the virtual world? What can you keep and what can you add in to enhance youth voice? The following resources offer quick activities that can be integrated into daily routines, including prompts and some techniques to build student confidence with early success. 

  1. Storytelling Warm-Ups (Storytelling Guide Resource 7): These 10 warm-up activities can be used as fun ways to practice storytelling in only 8-15 minutes.
  2. Small Steps for Educators: Using Storytelling in Schools (Storytelling Guide Resource 13): This resource provides a list of ideas for incorporating storytelling practice into classrooms and schools.
  3. 10 Techniques to Promote Confidence and Early Success (Coaching Guide Resource 7): Use these teaching techniques to help students feel successful as they work on their public speaking skills.

5. What happens when I have a student that won’t say anything at all?

It’s important to start with getting more information from students about why they aren’t speaking in class. The digital learning space is new for most of us, and as with all new things, it takes time to learn the rules of engagement and get comfortable participating on new platforms. Some students need more preparation and we can help them by providing templates, time, sentence starters, guidance, etc. Communication Anxiety Quiz (Confidence-Building Guide Resource 6): Take this quiz to reflect on personal feelings, triggers, and situations that affect communication anxiety.

  • Storytelling Cheat Sheet (Storytelling Guide Resource 8): Use this cheat sheet for quick tips for strong story beginnings, endings, and overall delivery.
  • Advocacy Sentence Starters (Advocacy Guide Resource 11): Use these sentence starters to respond in situations of confusion, difference of opinion, or changing the subject.
  • 12 Tips for Time Management (Coaching Guide Resource 12): Use these tips to effectively cover desired content and manage your time to help as many students as possible.

6. What can I do as a class to get students to participate?

Being online doesn’t mean that things have to be boring! Take attention off the teacher with classroom talk activities that have clear protocols, timing, and specified roles to make facilitation easier. The following resources include activity examples with compelling prompts and clear structures to support student engagement:

From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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