For Teachers

Making Persuasive Speeches a Priority in the Classroom

By The Room 241 Team November 24, 2012

The Internet age has brought drastic changes to approaching technology and communication, making real life-classroom discussion more important than ever. While many students struggle with social interactions, learning effective public speaking skills can help overcome these problems. The art of the persuasive speech is now a vital part of teaching students not only how to present ideas and arguments effectively but also how to communicate in general.

The loss of real discussion

As students become more engaged in online discussions, message boards and social media websites, they are spending less time having face-to-face discourse with peers. This can create a problem in developing the necessary tools for interacting with others both in and out of the classroom. Online discussions that do not carry the weight of direct real-life consequences can easily get out of hand. Students that only focus on communicating online are in danger of learning inappropriate ways of discussing issues and presenting ideas.

Speaking skills

When students learn how to give persuasive speeches they build upon their verbal abilities as a whole. The presentation of a speech is just as important as the argument itself. EnglishClub points out several areas where students can improve their abilities:

  • Body language
  • Articulation
  • Pronunciation
  • Pitch
  • Pacing
  • Volume
  • Pausing

Students that continually work on persuasive speeches will be able to keep their posture, look over an audience, and verbally express their content in a clear and audible manner. By learning when to pause and how to keep a speech well paced, students begin to grasp the effect that ideas have when presented in the proper manner.

Persuasive speech preparation

Teaching Channel offers a video that showcases one classroom’s approach to preparing students for a persuasive speech assignment. Their example highlights different ways of engaging students in the process of learning how to make a persuasive argument, including writing out what they already know to be effective tools in a speech and critiquing example speeches. These preliminary steps prepare students to craft their own persuasive speeches. The Teaching Channel video also shows how teachers can get students involved in listening to their classmates and use their analysis to better their own speeches.

Reaching an audience

The Class Struggle points out that one of the most important aspects of a great speech is getting the audience to care. When a student can present material that engages the class and makes everyone consider the impact it has on them, they are far more likely to listen. Anyone who is uninterested in the content of a persuasive speech will not focus no matter how good the speaker is. A successful persuasive speech gets other students to hang on each point and follow along, wanting to know where the argument is going and how it will further impact their own lives.

Here are some more examples of topics for persuasive speeches that students will be more inclined to pay attention to:

  • Changing legal driving age
  • Adjusting the length of school year
  • Removing age restrictions for movies
  • School dress codes

Beyond the classroom

Students learn the art of giving a great persuasive speech to help them not only give presentations in future education levels but also in the work place. Additionally, the skills developed by persuasive speeches expand far beyond presentations. Students learn how to communicate with others, speak clearly, present themselves well and articulate their ideas. These tools help students communicate with friends, family members, in relationships and in the workplace. While technology continues to play a major factor in the classroom, the act of engaging students in real discussion becomes more crucial. When educators place high priority on persuasive speeches, they help students struggling to communicate socially as well as advance the abilities of those who can already speak well.

Learn More: Click to view related resources.

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