Tricks and Techniques for Speech Delivery

Author: Jill Torrey Emmons

Time: 2 periods
10 minutes
Materials: Stop watch, notes on overhead

The average American fears public speaking more than he fears death. The same can be said for most students. But public speaking doesn’t have to strike terror into the ninth grade heart. This lesson will help students confront and overcome their fears, while polishing their speaking skills using the POAM method. They will also have time in class to begin composing short persuasive speeches on issues that interest them. These speeches will be presented on the following day. This exercise will provide excellent practice for the students’ final project presentations, and must include at least one of the three persuasive appeals.

Purpose – The goal of this lesson is to allow students to apply what they have learned about persuasion and speech presentation to create their own speeches.

Students will be able to:

1. Write and deliver a short persuasive speech using the POAM method.
2. Incorporate one of the three persuasive appeals into a written speech.

National English Education Standard
Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Teacher Background
Teachers should be familiar with the persuasive appeals and speech writing techniques, such as the POAM method outlined here.

Resource Websites


Day One
1. Before students enter the classroom, write the following question on the board: “How do you feel about public speaking?” Allow students to think about and write down their responses to this question, and after about 5 minutes select some class members to share their thoughts. Students are generally comforted knowing that their peers have some of the same concerns about public speaking that they do. Discuss some of these concerns. When is it hardest to give a speech? In what situations is it easier to speak in public? Students may point out that when they are speaking in front of people they know and are comfortable with, speech delivery is easier. For others, it may be the exact opposite, and they prefer speaking in front of strangers.

2. Explain to the class that many people experience anxiety before speaking in front of a group and that it is a common fear. Most people worry over delivering a speech when they are unprepared or unfamiliar with the material they are presenting. Tell the class that in preparation for their final projects, which will be presented the following week, they are going to prepare and deliver 90-second speeches to help them feel comfortable with public speaking. To help them prepare and deliver these speeches, we will be using the POAM method.

3. Have students copy down the following information into their notes:

Writing and Delivering Speeches with the P.O.A.M. Method
POAM stands for the four steps of speech writing and delivery: preparation, organization, articulation, and maintaining eye contact.

  • Preparation
    1. Carefully select and research your topic
    2. Practice your speech with a real audience, and adjust for timing
  • Organization
    3. Be sure you have a clear beginning, middle, and end
    4. Order your ideas in a clear, logical way
  • Articulation
    5. Pronounce words carefully and correctly
    6. Avoid monotone and moderate your pacing (speed)
    7. Remember your target audience
  • Maintaining eye contact
    8. Look up often at your audience

As students are copying the above notes, explain each step of the POAM process, adding any other details and suggestions you wish. This is a simple method of speech presentation that should not be too difficult for students to master. As ninth graders, many students will not have had much practice with speech delivery, which is why this lesson is so important. Take some time to discuss ways of overcoming stage fright with the students by asking for ideas and brainstorming as a whole class.

4. Tell the class that they will be performing short persuasive speeches in class the following day. They will only have 90 seconds to present their speech. Ask the students to brainstorm a list of possible topics for their speeches, such as:

  • Should the school day begin an hour earlier or later? Why or why not?
  • Should freshmen be allowed to go off campus at lunch? Why or why not?
  • Should students be required to wear uniforms at our school? Why or why not?

Remind the students that they should use at least one of the three appeals in their speeches (logic, emotion, or ethics) and that they must take a definite stand on their issue. The goal is to persuade their audience that their view is correct, or at least has merit. The rest of the hour may be spent on preparation and writing of speeches. Remind the students to practice their speeches for timing, as they will have only 90 seconds.

Day Two
1. At the beginning of class, give students 5-10 minutes to make the final preparations for delivering their speeches. You may allow some students to go out into the hall to practice.

2. Call students up randomly to present their short speeches. Make sure you allow only 90 seconds per speech by using the stopwatch. Take notes as each student presents for evaluation purposes. Specifically look for the use of persuasive elements in student speeches.

Depending on your class size, you may have time for critique in between speeches. Immediate feedback is always best for improving student work, but some students may prefer that you not give your critique in front of their peers. Instead, have the class try to identify what persuasive appeal the speaker was using. Remember to give praise and offer constructive criticism.

On day one, students will need to finish composing and practicing their short persuasive speeches at home.

Embedded Assessment

On day one, the students may be assessed as they begin to plan and write their speeches. On day two, each student’s speech should be evaluated for correct use of the POAM method and inclusion of a persuasive appeal (logic, emotion, ethics).

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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