Speaking without words

Learning Outcomes

This works best in a classroom format but could also be done online eg via Skype for Business, AC or Microsoft Teams in software that allows displaying of the slides to others.

  • To learn how to think visually in a presentation situation
  • To extract the main, key points from a text
  • To reflect on the role of the visual element of presentation slides as opposed to text
  • To learn and understand more about copyright issues for presenting
  • To practice collaborative engagement with fellow students
  • To gain more experience in presenting

Ways of working and activities

  • Students are divided into small teams (3-4) and each team is given a short magazine article. The text should be quite easy, but related to the students’ own field/s if possible
  • Each team must make a presentation about the article using only 3 spoken sentences. The sentences can be from the text as a quote or made up (but not too long)
  • All the rest of the information must be conveyed visually using pictures, charts, diagrams, cartoons etc. Students use Google to search for appropriate pictures etc.
  • A discussion of copyright, Creative Commons and acknowledgement of content is appropriate at this point
  • Slides can be created for example in Google Slides
  • Short amounts of explanatory text can be placed next to the pictures
  • Students can use as many pictures and slides as they like
  • Preparation time 30-45 mins – presentation time is by definition very short
  • Students present the article to the other teams using eg Google Slides – the audience can give feedback about how much they understood

How are students supported?

The teacher explains the task, provides the texts (or the students could be asked to bring them in), and monitors activity during the task.

What kind of feedback do students get as their work progresses on their own skills and the development of their skills?

Feedback is given at the end of the task, but this is not the main point of the exercise. Discussion by the students would be relevant to reflect on how being forced to lose their words affected their choice of visuals.

How does it end? What happens next? How is the learning process and experience discussed and reflected upon?

See above.

Source: This is adapted from an exercise in the book ‘Exercises in Communication’ by Stewart Marshall and Noel Williams (1986) Kogan Page.