In-class activity for organization

In-class activity for organization

In-class activity for organization

This exercise can take some time, but it a nice way to illustrate the principles of organizing a speech. I use an extended example of organizing a t-shirt display at a department store.

In this exercise, I print several different versions of this graphic on different colors of paper, cut out each square, and mix them together. Put students in small groups and give each group a stack of the cut-out forms with these instructions:

  • You’ve been told to organize these t-shirts onto a shelf display. You will get a commission on each shirt sold from the display so you want to do it as well as possible.
  • You have up to five shelves available and can make as many piles on those shelves as you wish.
  • Sort the shirts into 3-5 piles first and then sort the piles into subpiles for how they can be best organized on the shelves.

After the students finish,

go around the groups and hear how each group organized the shirts and why. Most likely they will organize their initial piles in a similar way but their subpiles differently. It is a good chance to talk about what makes the most sense (i.e., do people come into a store looking for a particular fabric or a particular size?) Make the point that the speech organization is the same — it should be easy for the audience to figure out and based on what they need. These categories are also how you would organize the information in the speech for an outline, etc.

After we go over each pattern, I tell them I have one more shirt to add — it doesn’t fit into any of the prior categories (it is floral, silk, size 10, and has a lace trim). Students are usually not able to work it into their organization, which gives me the chance to say some things you want to include may not fit into your speech — reorganize or leave them out.


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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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