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Ford’s Theatre has identified nine elements of effective public speaking.

This lesson teaches students use those elements and helps them recognize how to use them effectively.

Common Core Standards


Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume and clear pronunciation.


Classroom Activity One  

Critique a Famous Speech and Speaker

Students watch a video of Emma Watson’s HeforShe speech to the UN in 2014. After watching, students answer the following prompts:

  • What do they notice about her eye contact?
  • How would they describe her behavior overall (nervous, relaxed, confident)? Pick one or two words that you think describe this.
  • What was the most memorable moment about her speech, and why?

Students discuss their reflections with a partner.


Classroom Activity Two

Podium Points Introduction

Explain to students that all speakers use their voices and bodies to communicate a message to their audience.  We call these verbal and physical elements Podium Points--things to remember when you’re standing at a podium. 

Distribute Podium Points handout to students. Ask individual students to read aloud one of the podium points and its definition. As a class, discuss examples of when/how each podium point may be used in real life (e.g., The tone of a speaker at a wedding may be different than at a funeral; how we emphasize different words in a sentence affects the meaning of that sentence.) Students circle the most important word in each definition. After they circle the most important word, use random calling strategies to have students share the word they picked and why.


Classroom Activity Three

Podium Points and “The Gettysburg Address”

Distribute copies of “The Gettysburg Address.” Using random calling strategies, call students one by one to the front of the class to choose one of the “Podium Points Directions” strips randomly from a jar. Students read aloud their assigned lines using the directions on the strip, and the class will guess which podium point was highlighted by the student. Do this until all directions strips have been used.

Assign each student one line to read in the class performance of “The Gettysburg Address.” If the class is larger than 20 students, lines 1, 4, 6, 11, 12, 13 and 15 can be divided easily. Give students five minutes to practice their lines using the Podium Points. After those five minutes, have the students stand in a large circle to recite the entire speech.