In-class exercise for supporting materials

This exercise takes some time, but is a great illustration of good storytelling techniques.

I would start out by telling a story to the students. I use the story of Sam Kastanis, who was tried for murder in Utah in the early 1990s — it is a dramatic story and captures the students’ attention. After concluding the story, I ask the students to describe techniques I used to make the story work. You could skip this part and do the second part only.

For the second part, I put the students in small groups and have them come up with a story that has an emotional impact. If they struggle with this, I suggest they use nursery rhymes. The group should choose one person to come up and tell the story naturally and a second person to come up and tell the story with no emotion at all. Both students tell the story and then the class is asked to identify which is which. We then create a list of things that the speaker giving the natural telling did differently than the other speaker. Repeat with the rest of the groups and try to add at least one technique after each story. In the end, we have a nice list of techniques for good storytelling and pathos in a presentation.

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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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