This activity was submitted by Lisa Leopold at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. You can submit class activities like this here.
Goals: To help students learn how to capture the attention of their audience at the beginning of their speech
Rationale: Public speaking textbooks present several techniques for capturing the attention of the audience, including posing a question, citing a statistic or an interesting fact, telling a story, and using a quotation. Students in public speaking classes may implement these techniques, but they typically have little insight as to how professional speakers use them successfully. For example, an informational question, such as, “Who knows what euthanasia is?” will not be as successful at gaining the audience’s attention as a more provocative one, “How many of you have watched a loved one suffer from physical or emotional pain near the end of their life?” However, students often start their presentations with simple informational questions because they believe that any type of question will suffice. Because little at