Stirling Talks are organized within 3 categories and themes:
Grades 4-6 (Young Learners) - "Success"
Grades 7-9 (Juniors) - "Environment"
Grades 10-12 (Seniors) - "Digital Age"
How to prepare a Stirling Talk?
1) Develop an idea
What makes a good idea for a talk?
Like a good magazine article, your idea can be new or surprising, or challenge a belief your audience already has. Or it can be a great basic idea with a compelling new argument behind it.
An idea isn’t just a story or a list of facts. A good idea takes evidence or observations and draws a larger conclusion.
Do I need to be an expert on my topic?
You do not need to be the world’s foremost expert on the topic, please remember that the audience relies on you to give accurate information, so whatever you say in your talk, please fact-check — especially facts you may take for granted: statistics, historical anecdotes, scientific stats. If you're drawing an example from a discipline that is not your main area of knowledge, use research from widely accepted sources, and, if at all possible, consult with experts if necessary.
Is my idea ready?
Write your idea down in one or two sentences. Ask yourself three questions:
Is my idea new?
Are you telling people something you're pretty sure they have not heard before?
Is it interesting?
Think about how your idea might apply to a room full of varied kinds of people. Who might be interested in it?
Is it factual and realistic?
If you are presenting new research, make sure your idea is backed by data.
If you are presenting a call to action, make sure it will raise awareness with the members of your audience.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, refine your idea.
2) Make an outline and script
What is the best structure for a talk?
There are many theories on the best structure for a great presentation.
There’s no single trick to it, but here is at least one structure that can work particularly well:
1. Start by making your audience care, using a relatable example or an intriguing idea.
2. Explain your idea clearly and with conviction.
3. Describe your evidence and how and why your idea could be implemented.
4. End by addressing how your idea could affect your audience if they were to accept it.
Whatever structure you decide on, remember: Your structure should be invisible to the audience. In other words, don’t talk about how you’re going to talk about your topic – just talk about it!
A strong introduction is crucial.
• Draw in your audience members with something they care about.
- If it’s a general topic, start with a clear statement of what the idea is.
- If it’s a field they never think about, start off by invoking something they do think about a lot and relate that concept to your idea.
- If the idea is something fun, but not something the audience would ever think about, open with a surprising and cool fact or declaration of relevance.
- If it’s a heavy topic, find an understated and frank way to get off the ground; don’t force people to feel emotional.
• Get your idea out as quickly as possible.
• Don’t focus too much on yourself.
• Don’t open with a string of stats.
In presenting your topic and evidence:
• Make a list of all the evidence you want to use: Think about items that your audience already knows about and the things you’ll need to convince them of.
- Order all of the items in your list based on what a person needs to know before they can understand the next point, and from least to most exciting. Now cut out everything you possibly can without losing the integrity of your argument. You will most likely need to cut things that you think are important.
‣ Consider making this list with a trusted friend, someone who isn’t an expert in your field.
• Spend more time on new information: If your audience needs to be reminded of old or common information, be brief.
• Use empirical evidence, and limit anecdotal evidence.
• Don’t use too much jargon, or explain new terminology.
• (Respectfully) address any controversies in your claims, including legitimate counterarguments, reasons you might be wrong, or doubts your audience might have about your idea.
• Don’t let citations interrupt the flow of your explanation: Save them for after you’ve made your point, or place them in the fine print of your slides.
• Slides: Note anything in your outline that is best expressed visually and plan accordingly in your script.
• Find a landing point in your conclusion that will leave your audience feeling positive toward you and your idea's chances for success. Don’t use your conclusion to simply summarize what you’ve already said; tell your audience how your idea might affect their lives if it’s implemented.
• If appropriate, give your audience a call to action.
Once you’re settled on your outline, start writing a script. Be concise, but write in a way that feels natural to you. Use appropriate verb tense and strong, interesting verbs.
3) Create slides
Slides will be helpful for the audience.
Ask yourself: Would my slides help and clarify information for the audience, or would they distract and confuse them? Keep it simple.
What goes in my slides?
• Images and photos: To help the audience remember a person, place or thing you mention, you might use images or photos.
- People will understand that the images represent what you’re saying, so there is no need to verbally describe the images on screen.
• Graphs and info-graphics
- Keep graphs visually clear, even if the content is complex. Each graph should make only one point.
• No slide should support more than one point.
What should the slides look like?
• Use as little text as possible -- if your audience is reading, they are not listening. Each slide shouldn’t have more than 30 words.
• Avoid using bullet points. Consider putting different points on different slides.
I’ve said my talk once in my head. Is that enough?
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! We can’t stress this enough. Rehearse until you’re completely comfortable in front of other people: different groups of people, people you love, people you fear, small groups, large groups, peers, people who aren’t experts in your field. Listen to the criticisms and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Keep rehearsing, and focus on talking like you’re speaking to just one person in a spontaneous one-way conversation.
Your supervisor (English Teacher) will assist and guide you.
Each talk should be no more than 5 minutes long.
Time yourself. Practice with the clock winding down in front of you. Do it until you get the timing right every time.
Practice standing still, planted firmly in one spot on stage. Have a friend watch you and stop you from pacing back and forth or shifting your weight from leg to leg.
Ask your organizer/city-school management to get as much time as you can for rehearsal on stage, with the clicker and the confidence monitor. The closer to the actual conditions on stage, the better.
5) Give your talk
Inhale. Exhale. Do it like you practiced.
6) Agenda and due dates
City Finals: First week of December, 2021
Stirling Finalists Registration Deadline: December 12, 2021
Event Date: December 18, 2021
City Finalists are registered on the Stirling Schools Website by their supervisors.
7) Dress Code
• All the participants must wear school uniforms.
• Uniforms must be neat and clean
All participants must be aware that they have the responsibility to represent their school in the most appropriate way.
Jury members evaluate the speaker performance within the rubric below:
Stirling Talks Poster - PNG
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