Overview: This non-graded presentation activity helps students prep for their proposal presentations by asking them to take a stand on a topic.
Author: Christine Alfano (based on a 2008 Activity by Sohui Lee)
Activity name: Take a stand impromptu speech activity
Class: PWR 2
Activity brief description: Students select a topic then deliver an impromptu, 1 minute oral presentation on it in which they showcase one rhetorical appeal
Schedule: Week 1, 2, 3 (Works well in the first couple weeks of the quarter as an informal warm-up activity to get students comfortable with presenting in front of the class)
Activity length: Approx. 40-50 min.
- To help students become more comfortable with speaking in front of class.
- To encourage students to think through some key elements of public speaking, including how to make a structured argument that uses evidence and is engaging to the audience.
- To demonstrate that even impromptu speeches involve drafting, structure (introduction, evidence, conclusion, signposts), strategic use of rhetorical appeals, and practice.
- To help students review the persuasive power of the rhetorical appeals they learned in PWR 1 (pathos, logos, ethos, kairos, nomos) by applying them.
- To encourage students to move past being intimidated by public speaking and instead see it as an opportunity to be creative and have fun.
Activity details: See handout.
Additional notes: Here’s how I break it down the activity during class time:
- 2 minutes to go over the activity
- 5 minutes for their drafting (slide-making is prohibited)
- 1 minute for practice (so they can feel what 1 minute feels like when you’re trying to get through presentation ) — they just do this mumbling at their seats
- 1-2 minutes for quick revision.
- 25-30 minutes to get through everyone. We just move through one presentation after the next without pausing for more than applause between them. I instruct everyone to jot down a few notes for each person about what they LIKED.
- 10 minutes going around the class, one by one (everyone has to contribute something), having people share something they liked that they had seen (specific, naming a person, or even general). I don’t allow any critiques … and I actually tell them right at the very beginning that we would only be focusing on the positive for this activity in our discussion. I want to make it a safe space and use the positive as examples instead of scaring them by critiquing them. Every quarter I wonder if I should eliminate the No Criticism choice, but for now that’s how I’ve been doing it.
This activity was originally featured as an Activity of the Week in winter 2014.