Using notes to speak (PDF, 32 KB)
The purpose of the activity
Speaking to a group or audience is often a stressful experience. The purpose of this activity is to give learners strategies they can use as they prepare to speak on a topic. The notes can also be used as prompts or cues during speaking.
The teaching points
- Speaking to an audience is manageable when you are well prepared.
- Planning and making notes helps a speaker to organise their ideas and add details to engage their audience.
- Notes can be used as cue cards when making a speech.
- Speakers use their awareness of body language to help convey their message.
The guided teaching and learning sequence
1. Explain the purpose of the activity and ask learners to share their experiences and feelings about speaking to an audience. Encourage learners to share experiences of listening to speakers too, especially in settings such as the marae, in a teaching situation, or in a community setting. Why do some people do this better than others? How do people overcome their nerves when they have to speak?
2. Explore the learners’ suggestions, for example, that some have had more exposure to listening to speakers and may not be as intimidated as others; the role experience plays; the ways in which people prepare to speak.
3. Work with the learners to draw up a short list of things a speaker can do to prepare. The list will probably include:
- Know what you have to talk about and why (the subject or topic and the purpose).
- Know who your audience will be and how you’ll tailor your speech to the audience.
- Make notes.
- Practise (including checks for timing).
- Be confident.
4. For this activity, the focus is on planning and making notes but the purpose and audience will dictate how the speech is delivered (the register, which includes the language and tone to be used). Ask learners to agree on a topic that they know a lot about and that would interest others. Alternatively, learners can work in pairs or small groups to plan a talk.
5. Use a brainstorm or semantic map (see activity: Building on prior knowledge) to record the main ideas or information.
6. Model then guide the learners to select the most important ideas and to put them in a logical order. Write this list on the whiteboard, or learners can write their own lists.
7. For each idea, the learners add important and interesting details that will engage the audience. These could include examples, anecdotes, descriptions or the use of whakataukī (proverbs). Make brief notes for each idea.
8. Learners should consider how they will greet their audience, introduce themselves, and thank the audience for listening. (See the activity: Greetings, meeting and parting.)
9. For Māori learners (and others who have a strong oral history), there will be formal mihi, greetings and acknowledgements to be made at the start of a speech, and formats to follow as the speech develops. If you and/or the learners are familiar with these, talk about how they can be built into the planning.
10. Discuss the need for a beginning, a middle and an end to the talk. Each part has a different purpose and overall, the speech needs to hold the listeners’ attention. Discuss ways this can be done for each part.
11. Explain the way the plan can be developed into brief notes, possibly putting the notes onto small cards or pieces of paper, with each new idea and its details on a separate card. Model this with the first ideas then have the learners continue until their plans have become sets of notes or cue cards.
12. Have the learners go over the cards, checking that they have included everything they want to say and removed any material that is not essential.
13. The learners can now practise their talks, going over them several times until they feel comfortable with the content. They may wish to rearrange, add or delete material as they do this.
14. The final step is the presentation. Learners can take turns to give their speeches (or to give the same speech) to the group. The group can give constructive feedback: you may want to spend time now or in a later session discussing ways to give feedback.
When there is an opportunity to observe a speaker (for example, in a formal meeting, a ceremony such as graduation, on the marae) ask learners to listen and observe the ways that speakers organise their speaking.
Learners can move on to considering the presentation styles that fit different situations and different personalities. Over time, they can start to develop their own personal style and adapt it to the situations in which they are required to speak. There may not be many natural opportunities for learners to speak in public so ensure they are able to develop confidence in the group at least.
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