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Public speaking exercises

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1 Public speaking exercises


3 The Trees In their nakedness the winter trees laugh at our inability
to shed the clothes of our past seasons.


5 Saturday This is Saturday afternoon - thunder in the air,
banana leaves rustling against the wall the muted sounds of the children playing ragball out on the streets. I have done my laundry, washed up the pots, pans and plates.

6 My room is clean. I have just taken a bath; I am sitting by the window. Far, far across the cocoa-coloured fields across the river at the foot of those hills - cars, like matchbox toys, hurtle towards their weekend destinations. I know I shall watch them crawl back again on Sunday evening.


8 I know it: they can never escape
their destiny which is so deeply-etched somewhere inside me. This is Saturday afternoon with nothing to do thunder in the air, banana leaves rustling against the wall the muted sounds of children playing ragball somewhere in the streets


10 I have done my laundry, washed up the pots, pans and plates. I have just had a bath everything is clean, inside and outside. I am sitting by the window and all the world is here. Where could anyone, or anything possibly wish to escape to?


12 Little Rich Boy The little boy wants me to give him
something his rich parents cannot give him. He stands outside my door at six every morning and every evening. Every day since I came to live here three months ago. And I, locked inside my room, wondering: what do you give the children of rich parents who have everything you don't have?

13 He is always there outside my door at six
when his father drives up in his shiny black Benz with those things he knows little boys love to suck and chew and blow out in balloons. Always there outside my locked door when his very rich father drives up in his shiny black Benz and toots the car horn and waits to see his little boy running for what he knows Daddy has brought him but won't give him unless he claps his hands and says: "Thank you, father."


15 But it seems now the little boy has got tired
of sucking and chewing little childish bubbly things; seems he wants to get his teeth into something more solid, something more - substantial. So he comes and hangs outside my door and waits for me to hear his implicit cough and footshuffle; to come out and give him something that his rich father doesn't seem to realize he now needs.


17 And I, behind my locked door, thinking desperately:
what do you give little sons of rich parents who have everything that you don't have? Finally, I have to open the door: Want to learn the twist?" "No. Is it some kind of cane, or whip or belt?" "No, it goes something like this. Watch me now, watch me!"

18 And since then, this little boy comes to my place
every day to learn that the twist isn't a kind of cane, or whip or belt, nor shumba - a kind of growling monster - crouching in some thicket ready to spring and pounce on little rich boys, nor is it all precious breakable china and sparkling glass that all rich people drink from …

19 Charles Mungoshi has written poems, plays, and novels
Charles Mungoshi has written poems, plays, and novels. He is perhaps best known for his novel Waiting for the Rain, winner of the PEN award. He was raised in a family of farmers in the Chivu area of Zimbabwe. He currently lives in Harare, Zimbabwe. The poems quoted above come from the anthology, The Milkman Doesn't Only Deliver Milk, published by Baobab Books in 1998.

20 After students read the poems to themselves one or two times, you might want to ask them to listen as you read the poems aloud. The beauty of Mungoshi's work perhaps is best appreciated if one hears the language and visualizes the images so carefully described. The following questions might help to initiate a class discussion, or students could be asked to write out the questions and answers on a sheet of paper and put it in their Exploring Africa Journal.

21 Questions: Re-read the poem The Trees.
1. Why do the winter trees laugh at humans? 2. What does Mungoshi mean by the phrase, "past seasons"? Re-read the poem Saturday. 3. Describe, in your own words, what Saturday is like for the Zimbabwean speaker in the poem.


23 4. When the poet says he is watching cars "like matchbox toys hurtle to their weekend destinations," he seems to say that many cars are driving very fast to get out of the city and to the countryside, where they will spend the weekend relaxing. Why do the cars "crawl back again on Sunday evening"? 5. What are the children in the poem described as doing on this Saturday afternoon? 6. Is the speaker in the poem content? How do you know? Re-read the poem Little Rich Boy.

24 7. Why does the little rich boy in the poem visit the speaker?
8. What does the boy's rich father give to him everyday? 9. What does the speaker give to the boy? 10. Do you know what the twist is? It is an American dance, and song, made famous by an American musician, Chubby Checker. The twist was very popular and was played and danced in countries all over the world. In this poem, the American twist is the gift the speaker gives to the little boy. 11. At first the little boy does not want the twist, why? What is a shumba? The answer can be found in the poem.


26 Improve Your Oratory Skills
Well designed and creatively used public speaking activities can go a long way towards helping you overcome stage fright and develop excellent public speaking skills. Young kids and adults can both benefit from an effective training that is planned with activities more appropriate for each age group. Here are some ideas for activities that will greatly improve your elocution and oratory skills.

27 Public Speaking Activities for High School Students
For older kids and adolescents, fast paced and fun activities can help them take their skills to the next level. Activity 1: Interviewing and Reporting This activity is often used as a team building exercise in the corporate world and even smaller organizations. Participants are paired and given a few minutes to interview each other. Once time is called, each participant stands up and presents a report on the person interviewed. This training activity can be adapted even if all participants are well acquainted with each other.

28 The idea then would be to do an in depth investigation about something specific yet likely to be unknown. Give participants prompts, depending on how well they know each other. This could be something like basic demographic information, or the most embarrassing moment, or the funniest memory of a class trip, or a favorite vacation spot. They are many such topics that can start an interesting discussion and result in a great public speaking activity.

29 Activity 2: Popcorn - The Progressive Story
When tracking students' attention during a reading exercise, an approach is to use an indicator to alert the next reader whose turn it is to read out loud. You can adapt this tactic for a fun and lively public speaking activity called "Popcorn". Essentially this is a progressive story-telling game, where the teacher or a student begins telling a story to the group and the authorship of the story changes every time the teacher says "popcorn". By either pointing at the next teller or having the tale developed down the rows or around a circle, everyone has a chance to think on their feet and do a brief public speech that logically or humorously continues the storyline, everyone adding their own kernel.


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