A young child wearing a white shirt and a red bowtie stands in front of a microphone and delivers a speech. Behind him two girls sit down and listen.

Podium Points

Lesson Plan Designed to Teach Students How to Recognize Elements of Public Speaking

Ford’s Theatre has identified nine elements of effective public speaking.

This lesson teaches students use those elements and helps them recognize how to use them effectively.

Common Core Standards


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.

LEARNING OBJECTIVESIdentify the roles that the verbal and physical Podium Points play in effective oral communication.
GUIDING QUESTIONSWhat makes someone an effective public speaker?

Classroom Activities

  • Classroom Activity One: Observe Speaker
    Students watch Emma Watson’s 2014 UN speech launching the HeforShe movement.
  • Classroom Activity Two: Podium Points
    Students will learn about Podium Points.
  • Classroom Activity Three: Podium Points and “The Gettysburg Address”
    Through reading “The Gettysburg Address” aloud twice, students work on using Podium Points effectively.

Classroom Activity One  

Critique a Famous Speech and Speaker

Students watch a video of Emma Watson’s HeforShe speech to the UN in 2014. After watching, students answer the following prompts:

  • What do they notice about her eye contact?
  • How would they describe her behavior overall (nervous, relaxed, confident)? Pick one or two words that you think describe this.
  • What was the most memorable moment about her speech, and why?

Students discuss their reflections with a partner.

Classroom Activity Two

Podium Points Introduction

Explain to students that all speakers use their voices and bodies to communicate a message to their audience.  We call these verbal and physical elements Podium Points–things to remember when you’re standing at a podium. 
Distribute Podium Points handout to students. Ask individual students to read aloud one of the podium points and its definition. As a class, discuss examples of when/how each podium point may be used in real life (e.g., The tone of a speaker at a wedding may be different than at a funeral; how we emphasize different words in a sentence affects the meaning of that sentence.) Students circle the most important word in each definition. After they circle the most important word, use random calling strategies to have students share the word they picked and why.

Classroom Activity Three

Podium Points and “The Gettysburg Address”

Distribute copies of “The Gettysburg Address.” Using random calling strategies, call students one by one to the front of the class to choose one of the “Podium Points Directions” strips randomly from a jar. Students read aloud their assigned lines using the directions on the strip, and the class will guess which podium point was highlighted by the student. Do this until all directions strips have been used.

Assign each student one line to read in the class performance of “The Gettysburg Address.” If the class is larger than 20 students, lines 1, 4, 6, 11, 12, 13 and 15 can be divided easily. Give students five minutes to practice their lines using the Podium Points. After those five minutes, have the students stand in a large circle to recite the entire speech.


To end class, students re-watch the Emma Watson clip that opened the lesson. Ask them to reconsider their warm-up responses. Now that they know elements of effective public speaking, is there anything they’d add, change or erase from their initial response? Are there things the speaker didn’t do or could improve?

Ask the students to think about giving a speech, and to consider which Podium Point(s) they think will be the most challenging for them to perfect. Ask them to write down the Podium Point(s) they think they will most need to work on.