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Public Speaking Activities

5 fun speech games to build skills and confidence

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 05-06-2020 | First published: 11-01-2010

These public speaking activities are designed to develop speech fluency and confidence through fun!

They are easily adaptable to groups of all ages and skill levels: from newcomers to advanced.

I've used them all and know they work. You'll find people become so involved with the fun and enjoyment of them, they forget to be fearful!

1. Interview Introductions

Image background a collection of assorted postage stamps. Inset of face of a young woman. Text: Public speaking activities: Paired Interview Introductions. This is Mary from Taupo ...

Interview Introductions are a great way to break the ice with a new group of people. The exercise has them finding out about each other and then introducing the person they interviewed to the whole group.

As it's a lot less threatening or scary to talk about someone else rather than yourself, you'll find people respond really positively as they're generally eager to represent the person they interviewed well.

Instructions

  • Divide your group into pairs.
  • Each person interviews the other in turn. The information gained forms the basis of a brief introduction speech they'll give to the whole group when the interviewing process is complete.
  • Ask them to find out their partner's name, where they live/work, what hobbies they have, what their favorite book, film, song...is, what they're most proud of (an achievement perhaps), what they hope for from the class, something funny that happened in their childhood, where they go for holidays, what they think about the latest local issue ...
    Obviously they can't expect to cover all of that in detail inside 3-5 minutes. One or two interesting points is enough!
  • Establish a time limit. I've found either 6 , 8, or 10 minutes works well. Keep track of the time and call change at the halfway point to ensure both people get an opportunity to be interviewed and to interview. 
  • When the group comes back together the introductions begin:
    "This is Mary from Taupo. When she's not working for the Social Welfare Department as a community social worker she's collecting stamps. She says part of their charm is that they don't answer back and are quiet!"

2. Image Starters

Image: a collage of 7 images. Text: 40 picture prompts.

Picture prompts or image starters are great for sparking  imaginative storytelling and conversations.

Either use my ready-made printable file of 40 picture prompts, (which you can find out more about by clicking the link), or gather up a collection of your own to use.

You'll need interesting images/photos from magazines or newspapers - enough for everybody to have one each and then a few spare.

Place them face down and have everybody pick one.

Using the image as a prompt, what can they share about it? 

Questions to get started are:

  • Where is this photo/image from?
    (And the answer doesn't have to be true - merely plausible! Encourage imaginative creativity.)
  • What's happening in this photo/picture?
  • What feelings does the image evoke?
  • Is there a season or time associated with it?
  • What happened after or before the photo was taken?

5 activities using image starters

If you'd like specific instructions for five different activities based around images you'll find them here: picture prompts for impromptu speeches

They range from introductory 'show and tell', like the starter questions above, to more advanced. There are solo as well as group activities.


3. For and Against

Image: Karl Marx. Text:Religion is the opiate of the masses.

'For and Against' encourages flexibility: the ability to see a topic from opposing sides.

A speaker has 30 seconds to talk 'for' a topic and then another 30 seconds to speak 'against' it.

Prepare and print out a selection of controversial speech topics. You'll need one per person.

Put the topics into a non-see through bag. Have each speaker select their topic when it's their turn to speak.

Ideally what's wanted is at least two or three good points supporting both sides: for and against.

Time the speech. Call start, the half way point and, stop.

Sample topics:

  • money is the root of all evil
  • a country gets the government it deserves
  • 'green' politics are just the current fashion
  • pets in apartments should be banned
  • marriage is essentially a business contract
  • 'Religion is the opiate of the masses' : Karl Marx
  • poverty is a state of mind
  • euthanasia is unjustifiable
  • global warming is media hype
  • cloning animals should be banned
  • animal testing is immoral

More 1 minute speech practice

Image: stylized clock. Text: From zero to hero in 60 seconds. 150 one minute speech topics with example outlines.

For 150 1 minute speech topics with 3 example speech outlines following the PREP (Point, Reason, Example, Point) format, the full text of three speeches plus audio, visit: 1 minute speech topics.


More on formatting impromptu speeches

For more on structuring impromptu speeches go to impromptu speaking templates. You'll find 7 useful speech organizers explained (including PREP), alongside suggestions to banish impromptu speaking blues. 


4. The Object of my Affection

Image: vintage match box toy truck Text: The Object of My Affection: 5 public speaking activities

Gather up a collection of small objects, enough for one per speaker. For example: a vintage toy car, a can of sardines, a hair ribbon, an old black and white photographic portrait, a pair of baby shoes .... 

Put all of them into a non-see through bag.

Each speaker puts their hand into the bag and pulls out an object. Whatever they get forms the basis of their 1 - 2 minute speech.

Ideas to help the speakers get started:

  • This ... {insert the name of whatever it is the speaker has in their hand} saved my life. It happened like this...
  • Whenever I see a ...{insert the name of whatever it is the speaker has in their hand} it reminds me of the time I...
  • I collect ...{insert the name of whatever it is the speaker has in their hand} and this one is the prize of my collection. It used to belong to ...

5. Conducted Speech

This is a group public speaking activity. It is noisy, effective and outrageously good fun! 

Select a tongue twister from this page of diction exercises eg. "Sister Susie sat on the seashore sewing shirts for soldiers".

Divide your class into groups of four. Three in each group will be the speakers and the fourth, the conductor.

The speakers repeat the tongue twister responding to the conductor's direction. He/she can make them go faster or slower, louder or quieter. The conductor could even decide to make it a round by staggering when each person begins! 

The goal of the exercise is to practice articulation coupled with vocal variety ie. speech rate and volume.

It also teaches cooperation and focus, or concentration. Let your mind wander, and it's game over! You've lost it, not only for yourself but your group as well.

Swap the conductor role around to give everybody a turn.

Once everybody is familiar with the activity, give the groups turns at demonstrating their prowess to the whole class. They'll love seeing and hearing each other perform. ☺

If you liked these games ...

E-book cover: Public Speaking Games

You'll love my ebook!

28 public speaking games (with many more variations and extensions), full instructions, PLUS printable topic, tongue twister, poem and image sheets.

A complete one-stop-select-print-go public speaking resource for busy people.

Find out more>>

For more freebie public speaking activities visit these pages:

What's the difference between these freebie pages of activities and your ebook?

My ebook contains the best of all the games from these pages and then some more strictly Susan specials, PLUS detailed instructions on how to use them.

You'll find out how to select games for a class, introduce them for maximum effect, integrate them into your lesson plans, and so on.

It also has all the topics, tongue twisters, images etc you need to play available as printables.

It's a one-stop, time saving resource that you'll return to time, and time again. Why not check it out?

Image: cartoon of excited girl. Text: OMG. I love presenting and giving speeches. I was a scaredy cat until I played public speaking games. Now I'm cool with it. Wicked eh?

Your students will thank you for it!