Towards the end of last year, those who attended were pretty much blown away by the speeches we saw [and felt] delivered at the first ever BottomUp Public Speaking Festival which you can read more about over here.

Never happy to rest on our laurels, BottomUp Public Speaking is back and have our sights set on an even bigger and more impressive Festival at the end of 2019.

Under the broad title of ‘Speak Up’ we are looking to build on the foundations of 2018, include some more learners and, with a larger venue in mind, the hope that a much larger crowd of audience will get to experience the magic this time around.

Saturday Sessions

On Saturday the 6th of April we gathered for the second time this year and were again super impressed by the commitment of these young people who choose to use three to four hours of their Saturday morning to start planning speeches to get ready for a year-end event.

Speak Up learners hard at work

In the first session we repeated a successful icebreaker from last year called Speed Talking where we had two rows of chairs and learners sat apart from each other. I gave them topics ranging from ‘My favourite food’ to ‘How I feel about school’ and ‘Someone who inspires me’ and each person has to speak for a minute. We have found this a great way to connect students from the different schools as well as just getting them jumping right into speaking.

This previous session Ashley Visagie did a really great activity called ‘I couldn’t disagree more’ where he would put up a statement on the screen and the first learner would have to say “I couldn’t disagree more” and then give a reason why. The student after them would need to listen to what they said and then respond to them with “I couldn’t disagree more” and so on.

In the first session of the year, Thandi Gamedze took the learners through some breathing exercises which we all found super helpful. Ashley followed that up with an Introduction to Story-Based Strategy which is a particular way of using stories to highlight issues that we have chosen to incorporate in this year’s festival.

In the second session, Brett “Fish” Anderson looked at some Basic Writing and Speaking Skills that would hopefully help the learners in their presentation. This year we decided that for every session of input there must be a space for the speakers to try out what they have learned.

Simple speaking tips for Speak Up participants

Then each participant was given a random statement or question on a piece of paper and had to prepare a basic intro plus three-point three-minute talk and conclusion and present it to the group and then receive feedback from their peers.

Speak Up mini speech prompts

Gerda Von Benecke took the final session looking at Narrative Power Analysis which includes looking at who is telling the stories and where does the power lie. Every session that we meet with the young people we try to have one focus on the speaking-and-writing aspect and another on the issues and critique of society that helps form the themes of the talks. After giving some input Gerda got the young people to add their own suggestions to headings stuck on the wall – ‘Everyday Stories’ and ‘What it means to be…’ inviting them to critique the stereotypes they hear and the trite sayings that are often thrown at them.

Speak Up Narrative Power Analysis notes

Building on the Foundations

It’s hard to believe but a three-hour workshop flies by and yet we manage to cover so much and so deeply every time. the decision to add a practical aspect to every single input session we hold definitely showed immediate fruit and we look forward to the next Speak Up Saturday session where the learners will start choosing topics and begin work on their actual end of year speech.

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