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Mastering Public Speaking - The Art of Persuasion

Grade Level: 6th to 8th grade

Duration: Two class periods

Objective: By the end of this lesson, students will be able to understand the basics of public speaking and the art of persuasion. They will be able to apply these skills to deliver a persuasive speech.

Instructor Notes

This lesson plan aims to teach the art of persuasion through public speaking. It fosters an engaging environment, helping students grasp the concepts of Pathos, Logos, and Ethos. Students will build their confidence as persuasive speakers and be better equipped to convince, inspire, and make their voices heard.


Do: Welcome the students and start by asking them a simple question: "Have you ever had to convince someone to do something or change their mind?"

Discuss: Let your students share their experiences and engage in a short discussion.

Say: Explain the lesson's purpose: "Today, we're going to learn about the magic of persuasive speaking, which can help you win debates, influence your friends and family, and make your ideas heard."

The Three Modes of Persuasion

Do: Introduce the concept of the "Three Modes of Persuasion": Pathos, Logos, and Ethos.

Pathos: Appeal to Emotions

Say: Explain how emotions can be powerful tools in persuasion.

Do: Show a short video clip that elicits strong emotions and discuss its impact on your students.

Logos: Appeal to Logic

Discuss: Talk about the importance of presenting facts, evidence, and sound reasoning.

Do: Provide a fun riddle or brain teaser to engage their logical thinking.

Ethos: Establish Credibility

Do: Share examples of famous people or trusted experts because of their knowledge or reputation.

Ask: Invite students to name people they trust and why.

The Persuasive Speech Structure

Say: Explain that a persuasive speech usually consists of three main parts:

  1. Introduction: Use a strong opening to grab the audience's attention. Teach your students about attention-grabbing techniques like starting with a surprising fact, a compelling story, or a thought-provoking question.

  2. Body: This is the core of the speech where students present their arguments. Teach your students to support each argument with evidence and emotional appeal.

  3. Conclusion: Summarize your main points and make a powerful closing statement to leave a lasting impression.

Examine Famous Persuasive Speeches

Do: To drive home the concept of persuasive speech, study one of the following speeches. Have your students identify the Three Modes of Persuasion and the Persuasive Speech Structure.

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. - "I Have a Dream" (1963): Dr. King delivered this speech during the March on Washington. He advocated for racial equality and civil rights, emphasizing his dream of a future where all people are judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

  2. Winston Churchill - "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" (1940): Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, delivered this speech to inspire resilience and unity in the face of Nazi aggression.

  3. Nelson Mandela - "I Am Prepared to Die" (1964): Nelson Mandela gave this speech during his trial for sabotage and other charges. In his defense, Mandela articulated his commitment to the struggle against segregation and his willingness to sacrifice his life for the cause of equality and justice.

  4. Susan B. Anthony - "Is it a Crime for a U.S. Citizen to Vote?" (1873): Suffragette Susan B. Anthony defended her right to vote as a woman. She argued for women's suffrage, asserting that the U.S. Constitution gave her the right to vote as a citizen.

  5. Malala Yousafzai - United Nations Address (2013): Malala, a Pakistani education activist, delivered a persuasive speech at the United Nations after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban. She advocated for girls' education and spoke against suppressing women's rights.

Activity: Persuasive Speech Practice

Do: Divide your students into small groups and give each group a topic. Topics should range from "Should school uniforms be mandatory?" to "Is homework beneficial?" 

  • Have each group prepare a short persuasive speech following the structure you just explained. This activity allows students to work together, practice their persuasive skills, and learn from one another.
  • Have each group present their persuasive speeches to the class. Encourage the audience to provide constructive feedback, emphasizing the Three Modes of Persuasion: Pathos, Logos, and Ethos.


Say: Summarize the key takeaways of the lesson:

  • Public speaking is about persuasion, and the Three Modes (Pathos, Logos, and Ethos) can help you become a persuasive speaker.

  • A persuasive speech has an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • Practice is essential to improve your public speaking skills.


Do: Assign a homework task such as "Write a persuasive speech on a topic of your choice, using the skills we discussed today. Remember the Three Modes and the structure of a persuasive speech."


Written by Brooke Lektorich

Education World Contributor

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