Jayda Pugliese at Lifehack has compiled a list of five computerized visual aid alternatives to PowerPoint. Each one includes some of the benefits and potential drawbacks and a link to a video showing how it works.
If you want to push your students a bit with visual aids — or overhaul your own visual aid options — this gives some interesting choices. Number 5 on the list says it is particularly good for students (or groups of teachers) preparing group presentations. The videos themselves may have potential to show and assess as informative presentations as a homework assignment or in-class activity.
This was the informative speech assignment for middle school students, ages 10-14:
- Topic: “A fun place to visit close to our town.” You can decide how to define “close” – I set it within two hours to include two different tourist areas. The students should be specific and not try to cover an entire town or broad area due to the short time limit.
- Length: 4 minutes — 1 minute on each of three main points, plus 1 minute to cover the introduction, transitions, and conclusion.
- Structure: Students were allowed to select either a space or category pattern. Each main point was to focus on either breaking the fun place up into three key locations (space) or three key features or reasons to visit (category). The speech topic lends itself primarily to talking about facts like location, cost to enter, features, hours, etc. and students should do that. But students should also be encouraged to include testimony, specific examples, and personal observations (like favorite thing they did there or best food they ate there) as well.
- Outside sources: At least one required. It could be the location’s web site, a brochure, or an interview with an adult who had been there.
- Visual aids: Optional.
This assignment worked well — students covered amusement parks, outdoor hiking areas and an annual convention. Visual aids could be made mandatory if you get a chance to cover them before the assignment. If you wish to add additional source requirements, the speech would probably have to be made longer.
This clever SlideShare presentation from Nadine Hanafi of We Are Visual goes over three reasons that presentations fail. It covers issues like audience adaptation and overloading the audience with information, not only humorously highlighting the problems but also providing tips to remedy them.
The presentation would be compelling for students online or to present as an example in class.
Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes explores the idea of climbing up and down the “Ladder of Abstraction” with your language as a speaker. The article provides multiple examples and would be a great resource for students struggling to understand why a speaker’s language choices are important.
It can be a challenge for college students to distinguish facts and opinions in writing and speaking, but it is so important for public speakers to be able to do this with their own information so that they know where they will need to provide more support.
I used a sample story for students followed by a series of questions to illustrate that the lines between fact, opinions and inferences are not always clear-cut. I can’t find that exact story online and do not know if I am allowed to type it in since I got it from an educational publication, but I found a similar example online at http://www.education.com/study-help/article/difference-fact-opinon-practice-exercise/ problem 2. It has an answer key as well.
There are also several examples online of brief statements that ask students to identify facts and opinions, much like problem 1 on the above link. These could be done as a group discussion (this is how I did it) or as a small group activity with groups also discussing how they could support the opinions or inferences in a speech.
If you have found any other paragraph examples online, please let us know in a comment.
At the class web site I provide several links to help students get started with research and organization of their birthday speeches.
Where to start research for birthday speech:
- Go to birth year and search for date on list
- Summary of content covered on evening news programs from 1968 on. You will need to register to see full lists, but registration is free
- Click on year of birth, then use yellow box at left to check for celebrity births, deaths, marriages, movie premieres, etc.
- Links to several historical sites that can be searched by date
The birthday speech is a great choice for the first speech requiring research. The research can be tough on this as the events must be confined to the exact day and year of the student’s birth. Most students will not be able to do this with Google alone and will find themselves in a library looking at copies of old newspapers (gasp!) to complete it.
A risk with this assignment is that it can get boring to listen to all of them — I tell the students this is preventable however. First, on the job you will often not get to choose your topics but will have to take what you’re given and make it interesting. Second, all of these events are stories — think about them the same way you did with the introductory (tell a story) speech already completed in class. Third, it is fully in your control how boring they are.
I make visual aids optional simply due to time constraints but they are easy to find and add a lot to the speech if you wish to require them.
Here is the assignment as described to students:
Pass out quarter sheets of notebook paper and ask the students to identify which of their classmates’ introductory speeches they remember the most and could give if required and why. After the introductory speeches, I would move to informative speaking and this allowed me to compile the “why” answers into a list to compare to the book’s techniques for how to make a speech memorable. In the next class, I would give the students the top five reasons people remembered the introductory speeches that they did and ask them which of the book’s techniques this reason matched. It was a great way to show that the book’s suggestions were realistic.
Minute papers are meant to be anonymous, although I invite students to put their names on the paper if they would like a personal e-mail response.
We all have stories to tell, stories that provide wisdom about the journey of life.
Saul Rubin, humorist