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[Speaking-Out-Loud October 2014] Wickedly awful public speaking games
October 31, 2014

Welcome to the October Issue of Speaking-Out-Loud's newsletter to help you effectively "talk your walk".

In this Issue

19th century graphic of a woman with a pair of binoculars

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Wickedly awful public speaking games

What do you think would happen if you gave people, yourself included, permission to speak very badly?

And let's make that even more confusing, and compelling. What about if, for every "error" or presentation fault you committed, the audience clapped wildly?

Permission to Present Badly is a public speaking game I devised for students. It's easily adaptable for club or group.

The driver behind it was to make it OK to be less than perfect. It acknowledges and exaggerates common presentation faux-pas, making supposed failure fun. If we highlight our faults to a ludicrous level in a safe way, it takes the sting away. They're reduced in size, not half so serious and manageable.

Here's how it works.

Prepare a list of poor presentation habits.
For example:
- mumbling, speaking too fast, too loudly, or too softly,
- ending every sentence with a rising inflection,
- excessive and unnatural pausing, repetition of filler words - like, um, ah,
- repetition of phrases - and then I ..., there was this ...,
- staring at the floor or out the window for the entire speech,
- slouching with hands in pockets, monotone delivery,
- rattling coins in pockets, fidgeting with notes,
- use of words that few understand (jargon), muddling notes,
- props too small, jokes that backfire, mispronunciation of names,
- obviously scripted and over-exaggerated body language,
- face pulling, wringing of hands, forgetting to breathe and so on.

You'll also need speech texts or extracts from commonly known stories like Little Red Riding Hood to massacre.

To set it up explain the premise - that we are going to have fun doing the very best of the very worst that we can.

I used a spiel to get into the spirit of the game like this:

"Ladies and Gentlemen - today we are privileged to have with us the very best of the very worst speech presenters in all of history! Yes, they have raised {insert faults you want to work with eg. speaking too fast or mumbling} to high art. And they are here to share their skills with us.

Please put your hands together for {insert name of person} who will begin with a dazzling demonstration of {insert fault eg. speaking too fast}."

Lead the clapping as they come to the front and hand over the speech or story script that they're to use.

Allow about 15- 20 seconds and then announce a contender for the title of best {whatever the fault is eg. too fast speaker}.

"Thank you! I see we have another contender for best too fast speaker. {insert name of student}, please step forward!"

More clapping. Hand over the script, and on they go. After about 3 or 4 examples change to the next fault you wish to highlight and repeat.

At the end thank all the performers for their marvelous and inspiring work and allow time for a feedback session. Generally I found that students had a much greater awareness of their particular weaknesses, were relaxed about them and ready to learn, minus the crippling burden of self conscious judgement and anxiety! The consensus was that it was fun being wickedly awful!

From experience it was best if:

  • we didn't spend too much time with each student as it got tedious for them and the class. The point was effectively made in around 15 - 20 seconds.
  • we chose 1 or 2 faults to work with in any one session. Too many and the focus became blurred.

Would you like more public speaking games?
You'll find them on these pages of my site:

You can find the entire collection, plus some more, in an ebook I compiled called "Public speaking Games - From fear to fun in 28 ways". Suitable for public speaking or speech classes and groups, they cover impromptu speaking, vocal variety, articulation or diction, body language, ice breakers and story telling.

To make the book a complete one-stop resource I've included printable pages for all the games requiring prepared lists or flash cards so you don't have to scrabble around sorting them out for yourselves.

The book is exactly the sort of time saving resource I looked for when I was a full time teacher and never found!

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What's new

A round up of pages, either revamped with added information or new on the site

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And now some inspiration...

I'm sure I've raved about the website Brainpickings before, and I'm doing it again. Without apology! I love it for being that rare combination of all the things I want to read about and know presented in one place with care and flair. I let this site shamelessly steal my time with one tempting article after another.

Here's a post entitled The most generous book in the world an illustrated celebration of the little known side-kicks behind creative geniuses.

And here's writer Ursula Le Guin on aging and what beauty really means.

Go on, dip your toe in. Investigate.

If you've got comments, feedback or questions you're most welcome to contact me through my About Me page.

If you liked this issue of Speaking-Out-Loud, please feel free to send it on to any friends or family. The site url to forward so they can subscribe is Speaking-Out-Loud.

Until next time,
Happy speaking,


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