- Keywords: Presentations, fluency, confidence building, warm up
- Learner English level: Intermediate and above
- Learner maturity: University and adult
- Preparation time: 1 hour
- Activity time: 15 minutes
- Materials: Presentation program file consisting of a series of random images, projector, screen
Many inexperienced learners of English rely heavily on scripts or rote memorisation when giving oral presentations, and this often results in poor delivery. Such reliance may well stem from a lack of experience and confidence in speaking freely about a given topic. In this activity, learners are asked to describe a series of random images to the class. The students are encouraged to say what they see, rather than relying on a pre-written text, giving them the confidence and skills to move away from scripts, as well as helping them to remain composed should their mind go blank during a real presentation.
Step 1: Create a presentation program file comprised of random images: using an image search tool, find pictures of objects, places and people, and place a single random image on each slide. 100+ slides are a good amount for large classes, and should take no more than an hour to create.
Step 2: Set up a projector and screen in the classroom if needed.
Step 1: Split your class into small teams (3 to 5 students).
Step 2: Ask the first team to line up in front of the projector screen.
Step 3: Have the front student run to the computer and hit enter. This will bring up a random image on the screen.
Step 4: Instruct the student to face the audience, and give one sentence related to the image. For example, should the random picture be of a black cat with green eyes, the following sentences would be acceptable:
- “This is a cat”
- “I have three cats”
- “Cats are friendly animals”
- “It is unlucky to see a black cat”
- “Many people in Sweden have green eyes”
Step 5: Send the first team member to the back of the line, and ask the second team member to run forward, bring up a new image, and provide a new sentence. Continue through each member of the team.
Step 6: When the students understand what is required of them, ask them to line up again in front of the screen. Explain that you will give them one minute as a team to work through as many images as possible.
Step 7: Time the students, and count the number of slides they are able to successfully complete in one minute.
Step 8: Give the other teams the opportunity to participate. When all teams have competed, announce a winner.
Advanced level learners can be challenged to provide three sentences about each random image.
Teams can be asked to repeat the activity using the same images, allowing them to build fluency and confidence.
This activity is enjoyable, energetic, and simple, but has a powerful effect on learners’ confidence in speaking without a script. I use this activity frequently with university and business learners and find it produces a lively start to the class, helps to raise awareness of the expectations placed on presenters, and provides a valuable opportunity for learners to speak in front of their peers.