Survivor: Outspeak, Outargue, Outlast


“Speech Survivor” is an engaging and dynamic public speaking activity parodying the popular TV show “Survivor.” This exercise challenges students to deliver impactful one-minute impromptu speeches on topics of their choice, with participants voting off fellow speakers in successive rounds until a winner is declared. This activity not only enhances speech-making skills but also encourages critical listening and evaluation abilities.


This activity is perfect for high school speech and debate teams, public speaking classes, or any group looking to improve their oratory and evaluative skills in a fun, competitive format. With groups of eight, this activity should take about an hour.

Learning Outcomes


    • Public Speaking Proficiency: Develop and refine speech delivery techniques under time constraints.


    • Critical Evaluation: Enhance the ability to critically assess peers’ speeches based on specific criteria.


    • Persuasive Communication: Improve persuasive speaking skills through competition and peer feedback.


  • Strategic Thinking: Encourage strategic thinking about speech content and delivery to engage and persuade an audience effectively.



    1. Group Setup:
      • Divide students into groups of eight. Each group will function independently for the duration of the game.


    1. Speeches: Students will deliver a 1-minute speech on a topic of their choosing. The topic should be suitable for a school setting and interesting to both the speaker and their audience. Each speech should aim to persuade or advocate for a particular point of view or action. They should use the claim, data, warrant, impact structure:
          • Claim: Students begin their speech by clearly stating their claim or thesis—what they are arguing for or advocating.


          • Data: Since this is an impromptu speech, students won’t have the opportunity to conduct research. Instead, they should support their claims with data based on their own knowledge and opinions. This could include factual information they know by heart, personal experiences, commonly accepted knowledge, or logical reasoning.


          • Warrant: Students should explain how their data supports their claim. This involves linking the data back to the claim logically and convincingly.


        • Impact: Finally, students should discuss the impact of their claim, emphasizing the importance of what they’re advocating and why their audience should care. They should aim to leave a strong impression about the significance of their argument.


    1. Round Structure:
        • Initial Rounds: Each student prepares and delivers a one-minute speech on a topic of their choice. After all speeches are delivered, participants vote anonymously to decide who will be “voted off the island.” The student with the most votes is eliminated.


      • Final Round: When only three students remain, each delivers a two-minute speech. After these speeches, all previously eliminated students form a ‘jury’ that votes to determine the winner.


    1. Voting Process:
      • Students cast their votes anonymously on slips of paper. In the event of a tie, a brief ‘speak-off’ with a new impromptu topic can be used to break the tie.


    1. Criteria for Evaluation:
      • Teachers should provide students with a list of criteria to consider when voting. This ensures that evaluations are based on speech quality rather than popularity. Suggested criteria include:
          • Clarity of Message: Was the speaker’s main point clear and easily understandable?


          • Engagement: Did the speaker engage their audience effectively throughout the speech?


          • Persuasiveness: How convincing was the argument or message?


          • Delivery: Were the speaker’s voice, pacing, and body language appropriate and effective?


        • Originality: How original and creative was the content of the speech?


  1. Feedback and Reflection:
      • After the activity, conduct a debriefing session. Discuss what strategies seemed to work, what didn’t, and how students felt about the speeches and the voting process.


    • Encourage students to provide constructive feedback to each other, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement.


“Speech Survivor” provides a unique and entertaining way for students to practice and improve their public speaking skills while also developing critical listening and evaluative abilities. By participating in this activity, students learn not only to refine their own oratory skills but also to appreciate and recognize effective speech techniques in others. This activity is an excellent tool for fostering a supportive and collaborative learning environment.

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