Public speaking is often associated with positions of leadership and social or political influence: the class president who addresses the student body, the CEO who introduces a new product at a company meeting, the pastor or rabbi who addresses her congregation, the government official who takes questions at a press conference. For many, the idea of standing in front of an audience to speak feels daunting. Yet speeches are used in almost all professions and most of us, at some time in our life, will be expected to formally address an audience. Public speaking encompasses many different elements that require thoughtful preparation: crafting the speech, practicing delivery, anticipating and engaging one’s audience, and making appropriate decisions about one’s self-presentation. It also requires confidence and comfort with a degree of vulnerability. These are skills and dispositions that must be developed with practice, feedback, and experience. The Speech Performance Task Guide is a tool for guiding students through this process.
Opportunities for Student Choice
Student choice can be encouraged in a number of ways. They can choose the issue, and/or they can choose their position. They can also choose the resources they review; the facts, details, evidence, and anecdotes they will present; and/or the audience and purpose of their speech.
Speeches are used in almost all professions: the medical field, business, legal services, educational tools and services, news, and politics, to name a few. Within these fields, they are used in various ways, including in meetings, at conferences, to sway public opinion, and to call communities, constituents, and stakeholders to action on various issues. Both historically and currently, mastery of rhetoric is an essential skill.
Opportunities for Exhibition to an Audience
There are many possible audiences for speeches. If students are working on a school issue it might be a speech delivered at an assembly or a video speech posted on the school’s website. If it’s a community issue they might post their speech on the web or present their speech at a council meeting or town hall. Students can create a guest blog post for their videos. They can create their own class web link and put their videos together in one place. Students might also submit proposals to present at a conference, or look for a site that supports youth voices.
Grade Level Exemplars/Models