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Public Speaking Games

A line drawing of a team of happy people each giving a thumb's up sign. Text: We say YAY to public speaking games.

If you're looking for fun-filled speech activities for your class check these out.

There are  7 tried and tested public speaking games on this page - ones that have been a great success for me.  You'll find they'll adapt easily to suit children of all ages;  from around middle school to adulthood. 

Use them in your class room, with the members of your speech club, or as an extension activity for a life skills or communications program. They'll help by-pass the fear factor, develop and nurture competent, confident public speaking skills, and do it with a large dollop of fun!

* If you're not sure about how to introduce these games to your class or group, scroll down to the foot of the page. You'll find handy 'how to begin' guidelines there.

1. Connect the Dots

Connect the dots - 6 dots with an arrow running through them, linking them up.

How to play

Prepare a collection of word cards each with a familiar noun on it. You'll need at least 100. They could be names of famous people, common objects, colors, animals ...

For example: bird, wheelbarrow, hammer, cow, witch, moon, grass, hat, elephant, computer, book, vase, elbow, photo, green, candlestick, shoe, painting, mug, plane, eclipse, Queen Elizabeth,  operation, halo, knife, eye, storm, girl, pillow, lid, thermometer, jungle, barn, wheel, thistle, steam, mud, bike, pink, Madonna  ...

Put the word cards into box or non-see through bag.

A player picks two cards and then must immediately begin telling a story connecting both words together convincingly. The story needn't be long, (one to two minutes is enough), complicated, or true!

Once your class is comfortable with connecting two words, add to your word collection and increase the number of cards selected to three or even four.

What this game teaches

In a word - transitions!

Moving from one idea to another smoothly, in a way that can be readily understood and followed by your audience, is a must-have public speaking skill.

Connect the Dots gives people the opportunity to practice.  It doesn't matter how disparate the "dots" or ideas  appear to be, a way can be found to link them, and with practice the ability to make those connections will become stronger and stronger.

An added benefit of the game is listening and learning from each other.

Connect the Dots - an example story

I've picked my two words. They are Queen Elizabeth and bike, and here's my speech!

"When you think of Queen Elizabeth, what do you see in your mind? Do you see an older woman wearing a diamond studded tiara staring grimly into the camera?  There's a diagonal sash across her chest proclaiming dominion over the commonwealth realms. These include countries as diverse as Canada and Barbados - 32 of them in all. That's serious leadership - around 128 million people, including Prince Phillip, her husband, their four adult children, assorted wives and grandchildren.

Her daily duties would make many of us wince. She answers letters, talks to government officials, reads briefing papers, plans her diary, makes calls to charities, hospitals, factories, schools, museums or military units, performs civic duties like openings and investitures, and tours . That routine hasn't varied for the last 66 years. The Queen is an institution, revered and respected.

But she's also a person. And despite how difficult it may be to imagine, she'll have good days, bad days and days when, in the words of Cyndi Lauper, a girl just wants to have fun. In a figment of my imagination, she wants to poke her tongue out at all the 'must and mustn't dos', toss the tiara sideways and shuck off the designer gowns. She'd like to walk barefoot through wet grass and float on her back down a summer stream blowing bubbles. She'd like to gallop a horse around Hyde Park without a minder and in the afternoon ride a bike. Starting at the top of Primrose Hill she'll fly down, pedals whirring, yelling 'Look Ma no hands.' It will be glorious. It will be wonderful, and she will be free.

Perhaps it was a glimpse into unfettered being that convinced her to take up sky-diving with James Bond for opening of the 2012 Olympics. 86 years old and starring in a royal performance. She showed us. It's never too late to 'get on yer bike' in whatever form it takes. God save the Queen!"

2. Tell us the history of ...

How to play

Prepare a starter list of events or things. Write them on slips of paper.

For example: a postage stamp, birthday cake, books, a zebra's stripes, a chimney, the tooth fairy, common sayings like 'a penny for your thoughts', 'a red rag to a bull', 'a pinch and a punch for the first of the month', April Fools Day, a wheel, a Christmas tree, ice cream, a ladder, Father Christmas, May Day, a siren, shaking hands on meeting someone ...

Put the topic cards/papers into a non-see through bag. 

When its their turn a player pulls a topic from the bag. They then must give an account of the history (story) behind the thing or event they've drawn.  It needn't be factual!  Encourage imagination, outrageous lies, flights of fantasy ...

The goal of this public speaking game is sustained credible fluency. Aim for 1 - 2 minutes per story.

3. End lines

How to play

You'll need a collection of endings written on slips of paper.

For example: 'Just do it', 'Diamonds are forever', 'He's fallen in the water', 'Some like it hot', 'His bark is worse than his bite', 'Love makes the world go round', 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away', 'First up, best dressed', 'King for a day', 'Funny money', 'Laughter is the best medicine'...

Put the end lines into a non-see through bag.

Each player takes a turn to take an ending from the bag. The task is to tell a 1-2 minute story ending with the line they have selected.

4. Story Starters

Gothic thunderstorm scene - haunted house, dark skies

How to play

Write opening sentences or phrases on slips of paper. You'll need one for each member of your group and then some more.

For example: 'It was a dark and stormy night', 'I wish people would not say ...', 'Yesterday I saw a herd of cows ', 'My favorite activity is bird watching', 'The wisest saying I ever heard was ...', 'In 20 years time I will be ...', 'It made me yell', 'All I want for Christmas is ...', 'Something is terribly wrong ...', 'The little voice inside my head ...', 'This is the secret I've never shared before', 'I never knew what happened ...', 'Sometimes I just want to ...', 'You know it's Summer when ...', 'Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you', 'The story made me want to ...','I heard the best news this morning', 'The sound of people laughing ...'

Put the slips of paper into a non-see through bag.

Nominate a person to begin. He/she reaches into the bag and pulls out a story starter. The starter they've drawn must be used to open their story.   A story can be built and extended however the speaker wishes.

5. Oink Substitution

A large pink pig jumping with the word OINK superimposed over its body.

How to play

In this game a commonly used word is chosen and then substituted with the word 'oink'.

For example: If the selected word is I, the speaker says oink instead.

Oink can be played several ways.

Playing Oink using well-known stories

Make copies of well-known children's stories. For instance - Red Riding Hood, The Gingerbread Man or Three Little Pigs. (You will find many of them here: american literature.com has hundreds available.)

Next choose a regularly occurring word in each piece to substitute.

Eg. The word 'she' would be suitable in The Gingerbread Man story. Here's the opening paragraph given the 'oink' treatment.

"One day, the cook went into the kitchen to make some gingerbread. OINK took some flour and water, and treacle and ginger, and mixed them all well together, and OINK put in some more water to make it thin, and then some more flour to make it thick, and a little salt and some spice, and then OINK rolled it out into a beautiful, smooth, dark-yellow dough."

Decide who is to start. Ask them to choose a story. They are to read aloud for approximately one minute making sure they use 'oink' in place of the selected word.

Repeat for each member of your group.  Try to have each new reader of the same story pick up from where the last reader of it left off rather than repeat the same passage. 

Encourage authoritative readings, full of passion and drama!   

Using Oink as an extension activity

Another way to play Oink is as an extension of already known games. Try it with One Minute Speeches, Story Starters or End Lines.

Once your group is confident, add the 'oink' factor for even more fun! You'll find substitution hones thinking-while-you're-speaking skills really well.

6. The BIG Fat Lie

Young woman with her dog sitting on a mountain ledge high above the clouds.

This game fosters imagination, fluency and fun. In playing it your group will learn about body language too. How do you know when somebody is lying? How can you tell?

Each speaker is to stand so that everyone can see them clearly and share 3 things about themselves on a theme you set.

Examples of theme: holidays, the future, my favorite after school activities, when I was young, my beliefs, the best books I've read, the best adventures I've had ..., my family ...

Two of the things they say about themselves in relation to the theme are to be true. The third is not.

When they've finished speaking, ask the class/group to identify the lie. And when they have, ask them how they knew. What alerted them to it being untrue?

PS. This makes a great icebreaker for groups getting together for the first time.

7. In the News Today

Image: Cartoon girl on newspaper background. Text: Introducing Milly Reed with today's headline news.

In the last activity making up of this collection of 7 public speaking games, your class/group are broadcasters, anchor people for a news show.

The news is whatever has happened during the day. It could be an event on the way to school like a traffic jam. It might be a new menu in the canteen or lunch room. It could be an announcement the principal made.

It doesn't matter how trivial the happening; encourage the big news treatment for anything at all, even a new set of pencils!

The aim of the exercise is give whatever subject they choose the standard news format. They'll need to cover who, what, where, why, when and how.

Once they've mastered that encourage experimentation; adding introduction hooks, on-the-spot interviews, switch backs and summaries.

Retro cartoon of an excited young woman. Text: OMG - get all these games and everything needed to play them - BUY NOW.

If you liked these 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 >>


Before you begin playing the games with your class

Lead in guidelines

Taking the time to set the games up will ensure they go well and go on to become an accepted and eagerly anticipated part of your classroom activities.

  • If your class is new to playing public speaking games start with the simple activities first, for example, the Story Starters.

  • Model or demonstrate each game before you ask them to play themselves.

  • If it's too threatening to have the entire focus of the class on one person at a time - split into smaller groups of 4-6 players and have them work simultaneously. It will be rowdy but worth it!

  • Establish your ground rules for positive participation. You can check out the ones I used in my teaching here: rules for public speaking games

  • Include full class quickfire feedback sessions at the end of each game. I found these invaluable for drawing attention to and reinforcing what had been done well. Be sure to acknowledge any gain - not matter how small!

  • Keep the timing snappy. Too much of any one particular activity will become tedious. Keep it flowing along.

For more freebie fun filled public speaking games to play with your class:

What's the difference between the freebie public speaking pages and your ebook?

Public speaking games - ebook cover

The ebook has the best of all the games on my site (including the ones on the pages above) and then some more.

Plus, it has full instructions for using each of the games and printables. It is the type of one-stop-time-saving resource I wanted to find when I was full time teaching and didn't.

My freebie pages are good but if your commitment to leading/teaching a public speaking class is ongoing, the ebook is better, more complete.

Why not check it out?