In-class activity for listening

Link to 30-Second Memory Test description

This link gives a brief activity to illustrate some principles of listening. You can either read or provide a visual of a series of 12 words. If using a visual, leave the words up for only 20 seconds then remove it.

Then ask the students to make a list of as many words as they recall from the list. Give them a few minutes to do this.

After they finish, ask the students to find the word “sleep” on their list and circle it. (In my experience many students go “oh yeah!” and add it to their list). Then put up a visual of the list of words and let them know that “sleep” was not on the list at all.

With listening, I connect this to the idea of jumping to conclusions. Our brains fill in details when we think we know where something is headed. This exercise description calls it “false memories”.

It is a quick class activity. Students are often surprised by the results and what it shows them about how they listen.


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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.

One response to “In-class activity for listening”

  1. teachingpublicspeaking says :

    Also, if you provide your PowerPoint slides to students before class, make sure to leave out this activity…I made that mistake one semester.

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