In our persuasive speaking unit of drama, our final assessment was to perform our own infomercials. Our task was to create an advertisement for a made up useless product that would still convince people to buy it. In groups of four, we went through a whole planning process. First, we had to come up with a product. Our group finally decided on Air Socks, socks that open at the toes. Our target audience was really all ages, but particularly people with smelly feet. Below is our final video:
8A Drama: Infomercials5 from YIS Arts on Vimeo.
Before we performed our infomercial, we looked at examples of real infomercials and noted down key strategies that advertisers used in those. For example, when emphasizing the best points of the product, it is best to speak slowly and in a happy tone. In our group we had one presenter and three characters who told stories about their experiences with Air Socks. For most of the infomercial we all exaggerated happiness, besides in the stories. This is because the characters first spoke about a rough past in which all their problems were solved by the product.
In our infomercial we started with our presenter’s opener, before moving on to the demonstration of the product. After this we had the three different interviews, followed by the price and contact details. Our closer was a jingle we made up for the product. I think that the way we organized this was quite logical, as this kind of structure is what we saw in the other infomercials. However, to improve this, we could have spent more time explaining the product details.
Obviously, since it was an infomercial, we needed to incorporate persuasive techniques into our performance. We made up a catchy jingle and I think that our energy was quite good as well, considering the fact that sometimes we had to play sad or depressed roles. Whenever we were talking about the product and why people should buy it, we made sure to use purr words: words that people think of as nice when they hear them. The tone of our voice and posture were especially important to consider with our energy level. One thing we could have done was include a slogan that people would remember.
My best skill was using the words I said and the tone I said them in to relate to people watching the infomercial. In my character’s story, I talk about how the Air Socks relate to Japanese culture. I think I should work on making the lines I said stand out more and attract the audiences attention better. This was difficult, because my story was not as dramatic as the other two, so I had to try to work with that and make it affect the viewers.
Another group’s performance I enjoyed was AJ, Kate and Marina’s. Originally Spencer was in their group as well, but since he was not there, they had to fill in for another character. I think they did a very good job considering those circumstances, and I also found the infomercial quite funny. Below is their performance:
8A Drama: Infomercials6 from YIS Arts on Vimeo.
In drama class our recent unit has been speech, specifically persuasive speaking. We were all assigned to present a 3-4 minute speech about any topic we liked, as long as we double-checked with our teacher. Because I am a fan of the show, I made my speech about Doctor Who, titled “Half a Century of Time and Space”, in reference to its 50th anniversary last November. Below is a recording of my presentation:
8A Drama: Persuasive Speeches from YIS Arts on Vimeo.
Tone of voice is always important in speech-making, especially if the goal is to persuade the audience to do something. In my case this was to watch Doctor Who. The first element of modulation is volume, which I think was fine, as I was neither too loud nor too quiet. The second was pitch, which I think was also fine, and not as important as some of the others for this assignment. Pace is something I used to struggle with, as I would speak too fast and tend to mumble during a speech, although I think I was better prepared this time. I should have used emphasis more effectively, as using it accurately would have helped to persuade the audience of my point. I think my projection was fine most of the time, although I may have made a few mistakes with my inflection throughout the speech.
As for physicality, my general posture seemed good in the video. However, one thing I’ve never really done during speeches is use hand gestures to help explain my point, and this would have been useful. Also, to make my presentation more convincing, I could have used slightly more animated facial expressions to leave an impact on the audience, although this was not a major issue. I think I spent a bit too much time looking at my palm cards during the speech, but I noticed that I at least regularly looked back up at my classmates.
Out of these three things, I think that my speech’s content was the best. I had already known a lot about the things I said about the show, and other information and statistics I found easily. Therefore, my information was definitely relevant to my topic. I had also planned a lot of what I was going to say in my speech before, including the structure of my subtopics. I think I should have focused more on working persuasive language into my speech, because I forgot about this at some of the most important times of my presentation.
My best skill in the speech was using facts and statistics to back up my opinion, because I found quite a few good and relatable arguments for my topic. However, I should improve on using better persuasive techniques next time. Although I did use both specific information and stories from my experience, I sometimes lacked the general tone of a persuasive speech. All in all, I think that I did quite well on my speech, and the fact that it was a topic I knew a lot about helped.
Another speech which was captivating was Megan’s, because what she had to say left quite an impact on me. Her speech was about convincing everyone that they were all amazing, and it was designed to tell people that are not confident in themselves that they should be. She used very strong questions and stories that stuck in my head, and I would assume others’ as well. A video of her presentation is below:
8A Drama: Persuasive Speeches from YIS Arts on Vimeo.
In drama this unit we have been learning a lot about characters and how they are created. For example, how even if it is not included in the scene, that it is very useful as an actor to know things about the characters past and their relationships with other characters. So as an assessment, we got into groups of 4 or 5 and created a scene about our characters being stuck in an elevator. We needed to first create our whole character in a character plan though, and then we all came together and had to create the scene. This is my group’s final scene:
8A Drama: Elevator Scene from YIS Arts on Vimeo.
I think that our group did quite well with the staging, considering the fact that we were in such a small space, because it was supposed to be an elevator. Because of the content of our scene, different characters were forced to move into different places, giving the audience a clear view of everyone. Also the fact that at different parts we are on different levels (with some people standing, some kneeling and so on) helps this.
We also used the space quite well most of the time, even though there wasn’t much space to use in the first place. On the squares of carpeting we were only allowed to use a four by four square as the elevator. However for quite a bit of the scene we were standing in a bit of a semi-circle, which I’m not sure was a great idea because at a few points people in the back were blocked temporarily. Still in general I think we used the space very well, although I wasn’t very sure when we were still practicing and I’m glad it turned out fine.
As for my own character interaction, I think I had my good points and my bad points. My character, Molly Miller is a college student who is in love with her best friend David, which is Johan’s character. Obviously I found it a bit challenging to try to convince the audience of these emotions during such a short skit. I think I could have improved on this given a longer time to build it up, for example. However with the other characters I did not have that much challenging interaction to worry about, which made it easier for me to focus on what I needed to work on.
I think my character was reasonably believable, because at first she just seems like a regular student. However then the audience finds out that Molly is claustrophobic, which I’m not sure if I did a very good job at. I had to decide how to act the part just from what I had already heard about claustrophobia, and because of this, my performance may not have been as accurate as it could have been. Also the fact that at one point Molly starts to panic about everything and then is reasonably fine later in the skit is probably not very realistic, although it was necessary because of the rest of the story. Also if she had been freaking out the whole time, then too much of the attention would have been on me, and we had to try to keep it equal among all the members of the group.
In general though, I am quite proud of our group’s performance and we did better than I would have expected us to. I think it was a very successful assessment, and I hope that we can all continue to do well in drama this year.