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Public Speaking and Oratory

Context for this Lesson


Oratory and Public Speaking

Essential Question:

What does it take to be a powerful speaker?



Today, we’re going to be practicing our speeches.  Let’s see how we’re feeling about our speeches with a round of Exploding Atom.  

Clear a space in the room and ask that all participants join you in the center of the room. Explain that you are now standing in the AGREE area. When you read a statement, if the participants agree with what you have said then they will stand in the center of this space as close together as possible. Ask students to expand (explode) out as far as they can from the center. Explain that they are now standing in the DISAGREE area. Ask students to move where they think MAYBE might be. Clarify that each participant is on their own continuum between AGREE and DISAGREE. Read out prepared statements such as: “Watching movies is fun.” “People with money should share with those who are poor,” etc. Ask the students to vote with their feet by standing/exploding to the place that best expresses their opinion. Discuss.

It can be helpful to read each statement twice. Tell participants you are going to read a statement and you would like them to not vote yet, but just consider whether they agree or disagree with the statement. The second time you read the statement, invite participants to silently vote by positioning themselves on the continuum from agree to disagree.


  1. Speaking in front of a crowd is EASY for most people. Share with Group (3-4 students)
  2. Public Speaking is a talent, you’re either born with it or not. Think/Pair/Share
  3. Adults are better speakers than kids. Let’s hear from the where most of us standing first, would anyone like to share why they are standing where they are? (Always make sure that the smallest group has the last word.)

ROLE ON THE WALL (A Powerful Speaker)

Draw the outline of a human figure on paper or board visible to entire group. Explain that the outline represents a person giving a speech.  Our goal is to turn this person into a “powerful speaker”.  Ask the group what words, phrases, or messages are being given to this specific person at this time. Participants brainstorm possible messages. Ask participants who might be saying each message; connect messages with the messenger. As a result of all of these messages, the person is feeling a specific way inside; ask the group to offer words that describe how the person is feeling. Connect specific “outside” messages to the inner feelings.

  • What common themes or traits are standing out in our “powerful speaker”?
  • Did any of these traits surprise you?
  • How can a speaker overcome some the negative feelings he/she might be experiencing?  
  • How can you incorporate these traits into your own speeches? (make a checklist of these tips/traits/strategies)
Extensions/Applications : 

If Time Allows: Practice with a Partner or Group Rehearsal and then Share with group.

Ask students to pick two or three sentences from their speech to practice with a partner or practice on their own.  If in partners, take turns listening to one another, using the checklist we created to help “coach” your partner. If working with group rehearsal, ask everyone to practice 2-3 sentences on their own, everyone speaking at the same time.