Personal Impact Exercise: Just a Minute

Personal Impact Exercise: Just a Minute


This is technical exercise to practice public speaking. It is designed to focus a presenter’s mind on a specific goal when giving a speech so it is delivered without pause. The exercise also helps to avoid mental blocks or the dreadful feeling of suddenly not knowing what to say or how to continue.

The exercise is loosely based on “Just a Minute”, a BBC Radio 4 radio comedy and television panel game.


Talk for a short amount of time on a given subject continuously and without hesitation.

What You Need

  • An area where a presenter can stand to face an audience much like when giving a formal presentation. The closer this is to the ideal environment, the better.
  • A timer.
  • A series of topics. You need to choose a set of topics based on your training needs and what you want your delegates to practice on.


  • The object of the exercise is to talk for sixty seconds on a given subject without repetition, hesitation or deviation. The format is similar to the BBC television panel game, though with more focus on practicing a skill other than comedy. You can get an idea by watching an example show:

  • You shall be the moderator and will need to observe that presenters and the audience (other delegates) follow the rules.
  • Ask a volunteer to be a presenter.
  • Choose a topic and announce this to the person and the audience. You can also consider writing it on a whiteboard or flipchart.
  • Ask the presenter to start.
  • Start the timer for one minute.
  • The presenter should talk about the topic without repetition, hesitation or deviation.
  • The audience should listen attentively to make sure that rules are not broken. If they thought key phrases were repeated, there was a longish pause or the subject of the talk changed too much they should flag it by raising their hands.
  • As a moderator you can decide to acknowledge the challenge or let the presenter continue. Remember, the aim is to practice presenting rather than matching the TV programme directly.
  • If you think the challenge is just, pause the presenter and stop the timer.
  • Ask the challenger to explain the challenge and see if it is valid. If valid the presenter loses and should stop presenting until his next turn. If not, ask the presenter to continue for the remainder of the time.
  • If a presenter manages to continue for the full duration of one minute without a valid challenge, he wins a point.
  • Continue the exercise with the next volunteer presenter and using a new topic.
  • Repeat until everyone has presented.
  • In the first round it is quite possible that many presenters cannot make it to the end of the allotted time as this type of presentation requires practicing. Simply go through more rounds and continue based on your training needs.
  • Keep a tally of the points gained and reward the winner with the highest points at the end.
  • Follow with a discussion.


Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 5 min per presentation = 40 minutes for one round of 8 delegates

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


How difficult was it to stick to the rules? What seems to be the biggest problem for you? Can you stay on topic? Do you tend to pause too often? Do you tend to repeat yourself or repeat a particular word too often? What would you do differently if you had a chance to present again? Who did well and why? What can you learn from the winner’s approach?

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