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Free Speaking: Avoiding Speaker’s Block

Free Speaking: Avoiding Speaker’s Block


Purpose

This is a technical exercise to help avoiding speaker’s block while presenting. The aim is to follow a systematic approach in practicing over and over again until delegates are confident enough that they can deliver a speech without getting stuck. This a great exercise in handling stage fright.

Objective

Deliver a speech continuously for a given time nonstop without worrying too much about various aspects of the speech.

What You Need

  • An environment close to that of the ideal presentation environment.
  • A timer

Setup

  • Explain to delegates the importance of practicing to avoid speaker’s block. The exercise they are about to go through is called “Free Speaking”. The main aim is to get the words out and to continue doing so without stopping for 10 minutes.
  • Ask delegates to think of a topic they like to talk about. They can choose a topic that is related to an upcoming presentation or they can pick another one. The choice doesn’t matter so long as they have enough to talk about for 10 minutes. This can even be news they have heard recently or something related to a hobby.
  • Allocate 5 minutes for delegates to think about their topics.
  • While presenting, they need to specifically focus on:
    • Continuously talking
  • While presenting they should not worry too much about:
    • Speed of delivery
    • Coherence
    • Staying on topic
    • Not making sense all the time
    • Switching from one topic to another
  • If a presenter gets stuck and doesn’t know what to say, he should continue repeating the last sentence until something comes up.
  • Ask a volunteer for the first presentation.
  • Use a timer and allocate 10 minutes for the presentation.
  • Ask the delegates to roleplay the audience while the presenter talks; i.e. react emotionally and laugh at jokes when necessary.
  • After the allocated time, ask delegates to provide feedback.
  • Ask another volunteer and repeat the process until all delegates have presented once.
  • Finish by a discussion.

Timing

Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 5 min decide on topic + (10 min delivery + 5 min feedback) * 8 = 125 minutes for 8 delegates

Group Feedback: 10 minutes

Discussion

How well did you present? Did you get stuck? Who performed best? What can you learn from the best presenter? What tricks helped you with this task?

Variations

It might be better if delegates have practiced this on their own before presenting to others. You can assign them the task before the course so they can spend time choosing the right topic and then presenting it in front of a mirror. They can then go over it several times until they have mastered it. During the course, they can practice delivering it to others and see if they can perform as well with the pressure of an audience