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~ Presentation Skills & Speaking in Front of the Class ~


Need: Nothing!  They take turns getting up to the front of the class (for very nervous students, you can let them play from their desk)

Time: 15-20 minutes total (for everyone to have a turn, but you can manage this with your own pacing)

Play:  You mime holding a microphone and ask each of your students, one at a time, 3 questions in a row at a relatively fast pace.  They answer as fast as they can *and the answers can be totally right, wrong, made up, nonsensical, whatever their fastest choice is, that's what's celebrated.  After their first question, the rest of the kids do a polite golf clap, after the second question, the kids give applause like if they saw the opening act for Beyonce (more enthusiastic but still contained), and then the final answer gets a standing ovation & lots of cheers!  The idea is to help them feel safe getting up in front of each other and actively participating in creating a supportive audience for one another, to promote this safety and confidence.  Once again, their answers can be WRONG! Let this be as silly as possible, because it's really all about helping them feel comfortable & free having the focus.  Learning this skill and creating this atmosphere will make presentations a lot less daunting!

Tie In: It's all about creating that safe, supportive dynamic and environment for them, and inviting them to continually co-create and uphold this safety with you and for each other.


Need: Nothing!  *You can modify this for physical abilities as needed.

Time: 30 minutes if you want everyone to have a turn (try 1 minute each student)

Play One at a time, they tell a story or a rant or list facts or make things up (any kind of non-stop talking that you feel they can achieve) Then you stand at the back of the room and as long as you can hear them, you stand up, if you want them to increase their volume/enunciation, you sit down, this cues them to project more - when they do this, stand up in support!  The goal is to have as many of their classmates with their arms down at once (and you standing)!  Let them know they can tell the most boring story ever because the focus is on HOW they speak (so they don't have to worry about what they're saying for now).  

Tie In: The value of body language and eye contact when communicating and in helping folks feel confident.  This exercise is as much for the *listeners* as the speaker, because it encourages good communication habits in them while listening, which helps them register the importance of these skills when they are the speaker.  For kids learning more confidence speaking in front of each other, this takes the pressure off of what they're saying and instead of worrying about what others might be thinking, they're focused on communication cues like eye contact (therefore they learn to worry less about judgement and focus more on making a present connection, because that matters more)!


Need: Nothing!  But to practice speaking in front of each other, it helps to split the class and have half up and half seated as an audience.  You could also do this as a whole group, all at once, if folks are very nervous.

Time: 10 minutes 

Play:  Get a suggestion of a subject or job from your audience group (Eg., mathematicians), then one at a time, the kids who are 'presenting' take turns pretending to be the "worst" mathematician, or making the "worst" math-related statements.  (ie "100 divided by 25 = Sasquatch", or "I don't really believe in numbers"). After each of them has tried at least 1 statement as the "worst", then get a new suggestion from your audience group.  You can do this for as many rounds as you find supportive.  Then switch and do the same for the other group.  *Encourage the audience group to respond supportively to each offer: applause for everyo offer and big cheers for their favourite ones.  It's good for the presenting group to feel safe and supported even if they audience doesn't love or agree with everything they say, they have to learn to keep going with confidence!

Tie In: The permission to do things wrong and feel supported will help them feel more comfortable when they actually present on a subject in earnest (and they also won't be so afraid of mistakes because they'll have already deliberately experienced that).  They will also gain confidence from practicing making offers with conviction even when the audience disagrees with them or even if they don't get the biggest cheer all the time.  *But it is super-important to encourage the audience group to show support in some way, no matter what!  They can always applaud their classmates for being brave and taking a risk, and being willing to fail! That's where real support and confidence comes from.  Permission to try and fail and try again.


Need: Nothing!  

Time: For everyone to get a turn at the "Podium" (this will make sense later!) this takes a long time - so it's best used as an end of day game that you play over a chunk of time (like every Friday afternoon, for eg, and eaech time you play a couple more students get a chance at the "Podium").  But everyone is engaged in this game so no one is just passively watching.  

Play:  Select a student to be at the "Podium" - invite them to step outside (if you have a classroom, they can step outside and close the door, if open-concept, have them go a wee distance so you can choose the next part with your class secretly!).  While the "Podium" player is out of hearing-distance, you and your class choose someone well known (perhaps a historical figure they are learning about, or for fun, a popular animated character).  Review with the class what we know about the figure (say it's Justin Trudeau), who is he, what is he known for, what are well-known facts or details we know about him.  Then invite the "Podium" player back in.  The "Podium" player, little-do-they-know, are Justin Trudeau, and it is their job to guess who they are by taking questions at the invisible podium (front or focal point of the class).  Their classmates as questions that are subtle clues, hinting at who the "Podium" player is.  The "Podium" player responds as though all these questions reflect facts about their secret character and then makes a BIG BRAVE WRONG GUESS even when they don't know who they are!  Early questions can be really subtle, and later questions get more obvious.  Example (early question), Class Mate: "How does it feel to have the same job your father had?"  Podium Player: "It's great, like father like son.  Because I'm Kiefer Sutherland!*.  Example (late question):  "Would you say you're JUST-IN time to lead Canada?"  Podium Player: Yes! Because I'm Justin Trudeau.  Encourage BIG CHEERS when they guess it.  If they never guess it encourage BIG CHEERS for being super confident & willing to make guesses.  This game is 90% the Podium Player making WRONG guesses and that's what will be super funny!!

*As if your class knows who this is, hahah! A reference just for you! ;)

Tie In: The permission to do things wrong and find joy in that practice creates a confidence in approaching the unknown and taking a risk.  Not only that, they're practicing taking those risks in front of their peers, and their peers are fully invested in supporting them and trying to help them without giving them the answer.  Really great game for helping folks feel supportive and supported by each other - which is a huge catalyst for deeper confidence.  And of course, inviting a practice of trying and trying and trying again.

MORE Improv Exercises for the Classroom

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