It is a special skill to be able to express yourself in a short amount of time – this is why many people are interested in learning about writing the one minute persuasive speech. This speech is necessarily short, to the point, and extremely opinionated – and it takes a lot of practice to be able to persuade someone to agree with you in such a short time period. This might not be how you always plan to write speeches, but for certain cases (including debate team drills, classroom exercises, and other activities) it is a great skill to have in your back pocket.
Ready, set, go: you have one minute. Prove to me why you are right.
Many teachers like to spring this concept on their students. Try testing your student’s abilities with something easy: “Peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and fluff? Go.” Can they prove to you why one is in fact better than the other?
Before teaching your students how to sit down and write a speech, try a few of these exercises in your classroom. Let your students learn how short (or long) one minute can feel while in the heat of debate – don’t pressure them to start writing at first, just get them debating and fighting for their favorites.
Once they have a better clue of what a persuasive speech is from experience, start thinking about teaching students to write their persuasive speeches. There are a few techniques that are involved in designing speeches, but the beginning step is to just ask students to choose the absolute essential points of an argument to talk about.
Students have to learn how to think on their feet, and share information that is essential to building an argument in a small amount of time. These speeches can be prepared with an outline of points, and since the time frame is so short, you have to be incredibly specific with your outline. Make sure your students have mandatory practice session of reading from their talking points so that they learn how long a minute feels like and do not run out of time.
Return to your original debate: “Which is better, peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and fluff?” See if the debating skills of your students has generally improved. Do they know the essentials of constructing an argument? Have they memorized a few key transition phrases that help them stay on track and guide the listener through an argument?
Sometimes teachers like to assign topics to see how quickly a student can assess the critical aspects of an argument, formulate a response, and speak for one minute about it. For example, just cold call a student in class and ask them to explain: “Which is better, blue, or pink?” A student’s aim should first be to speak coherently, and then second, to make a strong persuasive argument. However, sometimes a more difficult task is to have a student pick a subject on the spot to talk about. If a student is given freedom to speak at random for one minute, it can be hard for many students to feel confident and comfortable enough to trust their gut.
These one minute improvisation speeches are great ways to point out classic flaws in speech patterns that can derail an argument in more substantial speeches. Track how many times a student says verbal fillers, such as “um,” “like,” “you know,” “uhh,” and other subconscious speech patterns. Consider deducting a point for each verbal filler used from the final grade if the problem worsens over time.
Writing the one minute persuasive speech – and conducting similar improvisation exercises – will help your students improve and grow as students and speakers.
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