Oral presentations – the power of speech

We had a good lesson, Maria and I, and we’re smiling.

As the boys start thinking about what they will do for their oral presentation as part of a year 7 competition, we thought we’d show them a few videos to spark ideas.

I embedded videos into the Oral Presentation group on the ning, and we decided to show the first three and leave the rest for individual perusal at the point of need.

The first video was a short introduction to the power of speech, produced by the BBC in conjunction with their TV show The speaker. The students listened to John F Kennedy’s speech in his voice through the mouths of young people.

Videos are great for sparking discussion. We didn’t spend too long talking about this one, but the boys had some spot-on responses to our questions about why Kennedy’s speech and voice was coming out of adolescents’ mouths, and how words could be powerful.

Next we showed them a video of a British boy, 15 year old Duncan Harrison, a secondary school student from Horfield, Bristol, who came first place in the BBC‘s The Speaker competition, winning the title of Britain’s best young speaker. I was amazed by this boy’s skills and charisma. He delivered a spine-tinglingly powerful speech about how poverty affected the right to education for children in Malawi, Africa.

I wasn’t sure whether to include this video, thinking it might put the boys off; they might think this boy is so brilliant and be discouraged from trying. But then again, a little inspiration goes a long way. Maria agreed with me, and said we should be lifting the bar.

The discussion that followed this viewing was very fertile. Maria and I have noticed a sudden awakening in the boys. Where previously, we had to work hard to receive any response, to ignite any sign of life in their eyes, all of a sudden, we have attentive faces, impassioned expressions, hands going up with urgency, and thoughtful answers. Imagine how we feel.

Lastly, we showed a funny little video from Brain Pop. Not brilliant but it still managed to maintain the boys’ attention despite it being the end of the long lesson (over an hour). At first I thought it might be too young, but it still goes through some of the main things to consider when making a speech. If you’d like to have a look, click here.

Lastly, I embedded a series of videos about different aspects of public speaking. They’re short and only cover one aspect at a time. This is great, but unfortunately the speaker doesn’t always practise what he preaches, that is, he doesn’t really engage the audience. Uninspiring, but since there’s nothing else I could find I thought I’d throw them in.

I’m beginning to feel a sense of excitment with this class. Boys I thought weren’t going to come on board are starting to jump on. I’m anticipating some surprises here.

2 responses to “Oral presentations – the power of speech

  1. Hi,
    Great post. I really like what you are trying to do here. It’s so difficult to engage boys and to give them the confidence to speak but one way to do it is certainly through the medium of film and to let them see some good examples. I like also your choice of a range of texts. Keep up the good work.


  2. Thanks, Bill. And thanks also for dropping by and linking me to your blog which is a wonderful resource.

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