If you’re tasked with training others to be effective speakers or presenters, you know you’re going to have to give them real-world experience. No amount of theoretical study is going to produce an acceptable result. Nor will watching others perform. One way or another, your trainees are going to have to “get their hands dirty,” talking to groups and practicing with the tools and tricks of the presenter’s art. Here are three resources you can use to turn out proficient, polished presenters.
Founded by best-selling novelist George Dawes Green in 1997, The Moth is an organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. At the start of each show, organizers identify a specific theme. Attendees from different walks of life get up and share their own stories (related to the theme) without scripts, props, devices or other materials. Each storyteller is encouraged to use their own authentic voice to create a unique and intimate experience for the audience.
Dr. Miren Ivankovic, an associate professor of economics and finance at Anderson University, tried this method in his class. He persuaded his students to speak by giving those who did bonus points on his next exam. He also sometimes involved the whole class in grading the participants, based on the quality of their vocal presentation, non-verbal gestures, confidence level and other factors. He noticed that more students volunteered as it grew closer to exam time, but overall his students enjoyed the storytelling experience.
PechaKucha is another simple presentation format, in which the presenter shows 20 images, and talks about each image for just 20 seconds — long enough to make a point, but briefly enough to prevent beating around the bush. This format convinces presenters to concisely and creatively express ideas, share concepts and so on. The first PechaKucha night was conducted in Tokyo in 2003, in the gallery of artists Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. Currently anyone can join any of the PechaKucha nights, now being held in more than 800 cities around the world.
When you introduce the PechaKucha concept to students, remind them that this format is far from a typical Keynote, Prezi or PowerPoint presentation. Emphasize these five pointers:
- Choose images carefully. Recommend websites that offer royalty-free stock photos at no cost.
- Avoid too much text and too many bullet points. The audience won’t have time to read.
- No slide transitions, sound bites or video clips. They just consume time.
- Arrange the images or slides in a way that will create a clear and organized flow.
- Timing is a major factor in successfully delivering a PechaKucha presentation. Slides will automatically advance from one to the next every 20 seconds, whether or not you have made your point clear.
TED-Ed Club is a special program of TED, with a mission to celebrate the best ideas of the world’s young people. Students ages 8 to 18 can join the club and learn how to present a TED-style talk. As a facilitator, you’ll need to fill in an application form on the website. Once your application is approved, you’ll receive free tools to guide you on your way. The club will meet 13 times, with each meeting focused on developing a specific skill that will, preparing members to deliver a TED-like presentation at the final meeting. Some TED-Ed talks are featured on the TED website, and during the annual youth conference organized by TED.
Have you tried any of these public speaking formats in your own classroom? How did your students respond? We welcome any insights, tips or guidelines you’d care to share.