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 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.