Introduce Yourself

Introduce Yourself

Overview: This icebreaker activity can be used either in PWR 1 or PWR 2 to help students get to know their classmates and also start to understand how shifting audiences influence communication.

Author: Sarah Pittock (adapted from an exercise by former PWR instructor Helle Rytkonen)

Activity name: Introduce Yourself

Activity description:  Students deliver two 1-minute introductions of themselves to two very different audiences; e.g., they introduce themselves to Kim Jong-un and then they introduce themselves to their unborn child.

Course:  PWR2, to introduce the ways we adjust our oral argument and embodied rhetoric to meet the expectations of varying audiences; could also work in the first week of PWR1 to help students experience what we mean by rhetorical situation.

Schedule: I pass out this assignment the first day of class and have students prepare it for the second day of class. It’s a great ice breaker, and takes about 50 minutes if all 15 students present two speeches. I usually hold class discussion until after the second speech, and then we talk about how the content and embodied rhetoric were appropriate for each situation.

Activity Goals:

  • To help students get to know each other: where they’re from, what they’re studying, who can deliver a joke;
  • to encourage them to begin to discuss features of effective oral delivery, among others, concision, emphatic repetition, and memory;
  • to make sure they’re up in front of the class and practicing their oral delivery from week 1!

Activity details: See handout.

Additional notes: Students have had a lot of fun with this. They’ve delivered poems. They’ve brought their guitars and sang their hearts out. They’ve brought great props — special hats, shoes, e.g.  I can see it working as an improv exercise, too, tho’ you’d probably want to give students a couple of minutes to collect their thoughts.

Some students will have trouble talking about themselves, either for cultural reasons or because they’re introverts. I usually advise these students to imagine more formal situations that require less self disclosure. And I remind everyone that they’re experts on themselves! No one is going to tell them they’re wrong!

This activity was originally published as an Activity of the Week in spring 2014.