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Visual aid for storytelling

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A Prezi prepared for Carmine Gallo’s new book, “The Storyteller’s Secret,” offers several great examples of the power of storytelling in various public speaking contexts.

This could be a nice addition at the start if you use a storytelling introductory speech, or later in the semester as part of the persuasion unit.

To incorporate an in-class activity, students could be asked before seeing the video to make a list of characteristics of a story and/or to name different contexts where people tell stories (speeches, dates, family gatherings, etc.).

After the video, a class discussion about how stories are used to transmit group values could be done. I like to use familiar stories like “The Wizard of Oz” or “Three Little Bears.” But I also share a few brief stories told on my first day at a former workplace (“and we all stayed all night and worked right through the blizzard…”) and a story my in-laws told when I first met them to ask what values they were intending to communicate.

Note that there is a brief ad for the book at the end of the video.

Link to Prezi


Example for language

This graphic from Joshua Katz at North Carolina State presents a fun look at language variations for some common terms in different regions of the U.S. You could select parts of it to share with students as an in-class example or use the entire graphic as additional information on a class web site:

Amercians Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other

Atlantic Video has created a 4-minute video that presents this same information in an entertaining way. It is available at

Soda/Pop/Coke video

Videoclip for language

The “Darmok” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation has many applications when teaching language. I have shown parts of it to show the process of understanding language from context cues, and I know of other professors who use it as well.

The premise is that the crew encounters an alien race that they have trouble understanding despite their electronic translators converting the alien language into English. The trouble is not with the words, but the alien’s use of images from their history and legends rather than straightforward descriptive speech. The episode is written well so that you can understand their language by the end.

Video for interpersonal communication

For an interpersonal communication class that has family communication as a topic or uses the Margaret Mead research on child-rearing, a great video is “Bill Cosby: Himself” — a stand-up routine from 1983.

In the latter part of the video, Cosby focuses specifically on family issues. As part of this, he describes children as “brain-damaged” and how they should behave versus how they do behave. Some of the material sounds a bit harsh to contemporary ears, but there is enough material there that you can edit to choose just a few segments.

I presented this to my class on the day we discussed the Mead material as another way people viewed children and to make the point that even within the U.S. there are variations.

Then on the exam over that unit, I referenced the video and asked students to explain which view from Mead’s article that Cosby’s description best matches and to justify their choice. It made a great test question to see what they got from the Mead article.

There are several portions of the video available at YouTube, the above is just one that is available.

Examples for cultural variations in language

Examples for cultural variations in language

Reader’s Digest collected a list of words from other cultures that have no English equivalent. It is a nice illustration of how language helps to define a culture.