Using a Visual Aid in Public Speaking: Best Practices for Speeches

Grade Levels
8th - 12th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
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15 pages
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When giving speeches, my students too often read from their visual aids. I developed this speech activity for my public speaking students. My message? Don’t give the power to the Powerpoint!

For this public speaking activity, students will experience a terrible presentation given by their teacher. The Powerpoint (included) has too much information - it encourages the audience to read the speech. As the teacher presents this poorly designed Power Point titled “Engaging Your Audience,” the students (the audience) will experience what it feels like to read an entire presentation from a screen. The teacher will then explain why they designed the Powerpoint so poorly and will reflect with students on the situation.

Students will then answer questions, correct the presentation (which will emphasize the information - which contains good ideas for engaging an audience!), and discuss best practices for creating a presentation. As a class discussion, they will cover the handouts “Don’t Read Your Visual Aid” and “Best Practices for Speaking with a Visual Aid.” (If you ever have students create a physical, non-digital visual aid, these handouts will still work for you!)

Students will then present their corrected presentations, which provides the teacher with the opportunity to provide specific feedback and expectations. As a closing activity, students will practice their speeches with a peer to gain confidence and receive feedback.

As an extension activity, students can read nonfiction pieces and read alternative points of view for ways to practice speeches so that they never have their audiences read their Powerpoints. They can then share as a class.

Included in this public speaking activity:

✓ Detailed lesson plans - please see the preview for two pages of a six page lesson plan.

✓ A Powerpoint - editable. This Powerpoint has great information about engaging an audience, but it has encourages the audience to read. At the end, it has questions to get students thinking about the problems with their audience reading from a visual aid.

✓ A handout: Don’t Read Your Visual Aid. ” This outlines the problems with reading a visual aid - a lack of audience engagement, unestablished ethos, etc.

✓ A handout: “Best Practices for Speaking with a Visual Aid.” This coves ways to create a meaningful visual aid.

The lesson plan contains common questions, as well as ideas for differentiation and extension activities. It takes me two class periods to complete this public speaking activity, but it might take longer if you use the extension activity.

Need more public speaking activities? This product and many others are in the Public Speaking Bundle.

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Total Pages
15 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 days
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
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.
Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.


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