Lecturer Katheryn Anderson has a creative exercise for preparing her students to give presentations. On presentation day, she always dedicates the first 15 minutes of class to warming up. “You would not jump on a treadmill for a run or start lifting weights without warming up your body first; the same should go for public speaking. Delivering a presentation can be a physically taxing activity, and we need to help students get ready for that,” Katheryn says.
One of her favorite warm-up exercises for presentation day is the “Ramble On” partner activity. For this activity, students will warm up various parts of the body (tongue, vocal cords and more) used in presenting. Katheryn places her students into pairs and assigns one student as student A and one as student B. She presents one question to student A, who is prompted to answer it (with student B as their audience) for 15 seconds. This gets repeated for student B, who takes a turn discussing their response to a different question for 15 seconds with student A. The pairs repeat this process for 30, 45 and 60 seconds; and are pushed to talk for the entire length of time without pausing or running out of things to say. She walks the room during this time, encouraging students to keep talking for the full time.
In addition to warming up, Katheryn’s objectives with this activity are to help students to think on their feet, help them gain a sense of the passage of time, relax the tension in the room before presentations and help students relate to one person at a time, all of which help improve their skills in oral communication. She says that students enjoy this activity and that it reduces stress and improves presentations. Katheryn says it can get noisy, though, so be sure to shut the door! Access Katheryn’s “Ramble On” activity brief here.