This section Public Speaking Activities: Useful Warm-Ups gives you some suggestions on how you can start off your public speeches with interesting activities.
Public speaking activities are used to help warm the audience up to you and to each other before you actually get into a speech proper.
While this is not appropriate in formal public addresses, in most occasions of public speaking, using some basic warm-up activities can be useful.
In this section, I will share about some of the public speaking activities you can do to warm the audience up to you.
Public Speaking Activities
Activity #1: Introduction to Neighbors or use an icebreaker
Sometimes when you first enter a room, the atmosphere can be really quiet or cold; and it might just be because the audience members do not know their neighbors.
One simple way to warm everyone up is to get everyone to turn to their neighbors and introduce themselves.
Get them to spend about 3 minutes talking to one another.
When the audience gets past the initial awkwardness of being a room full of strangers, you’ll find that the atmosphere in the room will become friendlier and they will naturally become more receptive to whatever you have to say.
If you want a more purposeful activity for this, you can check out my section on Leadership Icebreakers.
This will be useful if you’re in a room full of introverts and you know that they would most likely not take the initiative to get to know people even if you ask them to.
Activity #2: Stretching Exercises
Another way to get people to warm up is to get them stretching.
Stretching exercises helps the muscles to warm up and helps all those who are sleepy from an afternoon lunch to wake up a little.
While a little stretching is good, remember not to do overly vigorous exercises or they might start sweating.
You don’t want your audience to be out of breath or sweating in the midst of your speech!
Activity #3: Watch a Video
You can also show an impactful video that is related to your topic before you start your speech.
Doing so will set the context for your speech.
You’ll be able to start the speech with questions about the video to get audience participation right from the start.
For example, if you are going to talking about environmental issues, you can use Al Gore’s famous clip the inconvenient truth; or if you want to talk about dreams and visions, you can show Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech.
Whatever topic you’re touching on for your presentation, there’s someone out there who has done it before.
And with the benefit of Youtube nowadays, you can find almost any video on any topic.
Activity #4: Play a game
You could design a short activity that gets the audience to participate in your topic.
For example, one speaker I know takes out a 10-dollar note and asks who wants the 10-dollar note.
A lot of people will raise their hands but only after a while will the audience figure out that the first person to go and take the 10-dollar note will actually get it.
He did this to illustrate a point about desire.
You can do a similar activity that is related to whatever you’re speaking too, if it is appropriate.
The key to your activity is the explanation after. You must be able to relate the activity to the point you’re trying to make. It is your punch line of sorts.
People must be able to listen to your explanation and go “ohhh… that is true.”
Public Speaking Activities #5: Tell a Joke
People love stories, especially funny stories. If you find that your presentation is a little more casual, you can think about telling a joke that is appropriate to your topic.
Whichever activity you choose, it’ll help you in your presentation and make everyone more relaxed and open to whatever you have to say.
Your message will be received more readily and you’re more likely to get an attentive audience when you do either of these activities.