As an English teacher, I want to make sure this cringe-worthy moment never happens to one of my students:

This poor soul not only ruined a golden opportunity, but also embarrassed himself in front of millions of viewers. When one of our kids flubs a speech in class, it’s not going to haunt him forever via YouTube, but it may still cause lasting damage by reinforcing his fear of public speaking.

One solution is to give students many opportunities to present to the class, both in small groups and as solo presenters. Additionally, I’ve found success in having an authority, a professional in the business world, lay out the elements of a successful speech. Chris Anderson, curator of the T.E.D. Talk speaker series, gives sage advice to business professionals who want to avoid their own Tower Paddleboard moment of awful, and most of his tips work for our teens, too.

Using his article as inspiration, I built a multimedia lesson for my freshmen that includes:

cover1• Step-by-step directions/suggestions to lead students through a 50-minute lesson
• A link to Anderson’s well-written, high-interest article about powerful public speaking techniques and how they do things over at T.E.D.
• An attractively designed student handout to help students dig back through Anderson’s article and analyze elements that apply to speeches in both the classroom and the business world
• A detailed answer key to the student handout to help guide a full-class discussion and ease my fellow teachers’ grading
• Two illustrative examples of the presentation techniques discussed in the article using the Shark Tank moment above and an example of excellence from a teen-led T.E.D. Talk (video links included)

I use this lesson before my students’ first speech assignment of the year and refer back to the discussion points throughout the term as I give feedback on their presentations. Students appreciate that the lesson shows the real-world application of the work they’re assigned and brings a fresh energy to the necessary-but-sometimes-tedious discussion of speech prep.

Click here to check out my print-and-teach lesson materials.

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