"Just-So" Speeches

Richard Swallow

    For this fun "speech"  exercise, a student is given a funny/ridiculous topic about which he or
she must speak for 30 seconds continuously with no pauses.  The student is given the topic by the
teacher followed immediately for a timed 15 seconds to prepare themselves mentally and/or jot a
few notes on paper. At the end of the 15 seconds the teachers says "Go!" and the student must 
begin speaking at once about their topic.
    For some students this will be very difficult for a number of reasons. You know your students
best and can make some dispensation when deemed necessary. For a student to simply opt out of 
the exercise, however, should NOT be an option. Students should understand that if they are not
successful they will be given another topic at a "random" time later on in the presentations.

Rules: (read to participants)

1. You must stand up to do your presentation.

1. You may have no longer than 15 seconds preparation time to think about your topic and/or jot
   down a few notes and must then begin speaking immediately when I (the teacher) say, "GO!"

3. You may interpret your topic in any way you choose, that is, "square watermelon seeds"
   could be talked about as being still inside the watermelon, their special function in farming,
   as used to grow crops on the moon, as cheap slingshot ammunition...any or all of these plus
   an infinite number of other ways limited only by your imagination, as long as you continue
   talking continuously for 30 seconds.

3. The presentation need not make any sense whatsoever and can be presented as serious, humorous,
  "scientific," or any way you desire. Your presentation may be as creative/imaginative/ridiculous
   as you deem necessary to continue speaking uninterrupted for the 30 seconds saying virtually
   anything as long as your words "relate" to your topic. 

4. Remember, the MAIN idea of this exercise is to speak for 30 seconds without pausing for 
   more than 3 seconds at any time for the duration of the exercise.

Teacher notes

A. Hold up one, two, then 3 fingers as method to indicate to speaker that unacceptable "dead" time is occurring. B. If this is a first-time speech, standing in front of the class may be too much for some students so simply standing by their seats will likely be a better option and make them more comfortable, increasing their likelihood for success. C. Advise students to speak slowly Some example speeches which you may opt to read to the students is presented at this link.

Sample topics

(Make up some of your own to supplement this list.) Make no attempt to explain the meaning of the topic to the student. lopsided golf balls paper battleships fortune cookies electric bumblebees cracks in the sidewalk blue milk cherry pits cement pillows dust under your bed one-armed sweaters chicken lips banana peels belly button lint one-wheeled cars dust bunnies plastic birds square toothpicks invisible ink dry water why dirt was invented chocolate flavored liver rubber doughnuts spinach ice cream skin underground telephone poles holes in a rowboat bottom square footballs why mosquitoes were discovered bottomless wastebaskets the sound of a carrot uses for dandruff why there is air blue light bulbs why bruises were invented motorized toothbrushes why an elephant has a long nose why zebras have stripes what alligators are for short grass cat whiskers fireproof underwear sky hooks