Search form

Public Speaking Lesson: The Impact of Bullying


-Language Arts
---Speaking and Listening

-Physical Education and Health



Brief Description

Students gain public speaking and presentation skills as they educate peers about the important topic of bullying.


Students will:

  • Learn about good public speaking, presentation and audience engagement practices.
  • Reflect upon statistics and personal stories related to bullying.
  • Using a structured outline, prepare a presentation on bullying.
  • Deliver to classmates a presentation on bullying, incorporating visuals and audience participation.


Bullying, prevention, public speaking, speech, persuasive, informative, presentation

Materials Needed

  • (If desired) Computers with Internet access and printers
  • (If students do not have computer access) For each student, a copy of one or more planning templates from Outlining a Speech
  • (If students do not have computer access) For each student, a copy of one or more Personal Bullying Stories
  • Infographic on school bullying and a method of displaying it for the class
  • Student options for displaying visuals (PowerPoint, LCD projector, whiteboard and markers, flipchart and markers, etc.) to accompany their presentations
  • 3 x 5 notecards, paper and pencils/pens

Lesson Plan

Let students know they will be asked to develop, outline and then deliver a presentation that informs and persuades the audience to think and/or act differently about the issue of bullying.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Introducing the topic of bullying in class can prompt student disclosures of having personally experienced, perpetrated or witnessed bullying. Teachers should ensure the following before students begin developing their presentations.

  1. Gain administrator support. Have a plan in place in case students express concerns about how the school currently handles bullying incidents.
  2. Prepare to manage self-disclosure. Remind students that for the purpose of confidentiality, it is better not to refer to incidents that either they or other students have experienced. Let students know they can speak to you after class if they have specific concerns about themselves or someone else.
  3. Know how to make student counseling referrals if needed.
  4. Ensure that your school has a clear method for reporting bullying incidents, as you will want to remind students of this procedure.

Once you have discussed the issue of bullying reporting and disclosures, talk about best practices for public presentations when the goals are to inform and persuade an audience. Spend some time going over each of the following six components of an effective public presentation:

  1. Plan ahead.
    Explain the benefits of using a structured outline to ensure logical flow and good organization. See Outlining a Speech for resources (more on this below).
  2. Gather compelling facts and statistics.
    Statistics should be recent and from a reliable source. The numbers should provoke an emotional reaction. Infographics (more on these below) offer an efficient, reliable and easy-to-understand source of information for student presentations.
  3. Incorporate a human element.
    Use stories, quotes and examples to bring the facts to life. (Caution students against sharing their own stories or those of other students at the school.) Stories can be found at Personal Bullying Stories; scroll down to read “A Fine Line Between Autism and Bullying,” “The Skinny Girl” and “Daydreams and Nightmares” (this last one is under "older entries"). Limit Internet viewing to this page, or print these stories out ahead of time for students, since having kids surf the Web for sensitive topics can sometimes turn up inappropriate material.
  4. Use good public speaking practices.
    Avoid verbal tics ("um," "like," etc.); use confident body language and good eye contact; vary pace, pitch and volume; and use effective pauses. If desired, review some examples of good public speaking practices in action. The election-night speech of Barack Obama is one example. Have students take notes as they listen to the speech, noting where and how Obama uses these good practices. For another fun activity, have students practice reading an ordinary paragraph from a textbook or newspaper using Obama’s speaking style.
  5. Facilitate audience participation. Some techniques include:

    --Before the presentation, ask the audience to write down anything that stands out to them during the presentation. Also, ask them to record their reactions to the information. This will help stimulate post-presentation discussion.

    --Before the presentation, hand out questions (“What are some easy things every student can do to prevent bullying?”) or a format for comments (e.g., “Compared to before the presentation, now I ____________ instead.”) to several audience members. Keep a list of card-holders’ names on a notecard and make sure to call on them later in the presentation to ask a question or offer a comment. Sometimes jump-starting discussion in this way helps others to join in.

    --Pause when presenting statistics to ask the audience whether the numbers reflect their school (i.e., “Do you think this is true here?”)

    --Following the presentation, ask one or more audience members to summarize a few key points they remember. Or, ask audience members to volunteer one thing in the presentation that was surprising or memorable.
  6. Practice delivery of the presentation.
    Presentations should involve more than reading from a piece of paper. Students are encouraged to write key points on notecards and practice maintaining eye contact while looking down as little as possible. It’s worth spending time practicing this skill in class (both in terms of what to write on notecards and how to speak using notecards) before students attempt to develop their own presentations.

Once students have a handle on best practices for presentations, go over the planning tool(s) from Outlining a Speech (editable outline template, checklist, etc.) that you would like them to complete. Students can use one of the editable templates and complete the assignment on a computer. Or, you can print a document for each student that s/he fills out by hand at home. Here are some of the basic elements included in the available planning tools:

Framing the presentation

  • Purpose statement
  • Central idea
  • Summary of main points

Developing the full presentation

  • Introduction (attention getter, reveal of topic, credibility statement, relevancy statement, preview of main points)
  • Body of presentation (main and supporting points, transitions, etc.)
  • Conclusion (summary statement, memorable closing statement)

Display this infographic on school bullying and explain how it represents a reliable, consolidated source of compelling facts and statistics. As a class, practice applying this content to develop a purpose statement, central idea and summary of main points. Use the following guiding questions: Based on this information, how can we best inform and persuade the audience to think and/or act differently? What do we want them to think or do?

Students may wish to access ideas about what students and schools can do to stop bullying. One good source is EducationWorld's Join the Discussion on Bullying.

Below are additional infographics on “edgy” topics that may be of interest to teens. You can use them as alternate topics if you prefer more variety in classmates’ presentations. Or, you may wish to practice developing a presentation purpose/central idea/main points using one of these topics before introducing the topic of bullying.

For homework, let students complete the planning tool(s) (if they are finishing an outline begun in class, they must tweak the purpose/central idea/main points so that their presentation is not identical to those of their classmates). Students should be sure to incorporate the following into the document(s): (1) facts and statistics, (2) a “human element,” (3) prompts for audience participation, and (4) identified points at which visuals will be introduced.

Once you have approved students’ document(s) and perhaps given them a chance to make revisions, they should prepare:

  • Notecards to guide the presentation
  • Visuals to support the presentation (handouts, flip-chart posters, PowerPoint slides, material written on a whiteboard, etc.). If it can be projected to a sufficient size for audience reading, students may want to display the infographic. Students must inform you in advance of their desired display methods so that you can prepare the necessary technology.

Students should then practice delivering the presentation in class or at home (to friends, family or even a mirror).

Finally, have students deliver their presentations. Make this a day of celebration in class, perhaps serving refreshments. Ensure a supportive, non-judgmental classroom climate. Following each presentation, ask students to offer positive comments about the presenter. Save constructive feedback (see post-presentation assessment below) for another day.

To provide additional practice and a meaningful leadership opportunity, have students deliver their presentations to middle-school students.


Assess students on preparation, including:

  • Adherence to format of presentation outline
  • Quality, accuracy and thoroughness of information

Assess students (or have classmates anonymously rate each other) on:

  • Persuasiveness
  • Creativity
  • Use of visuals
  • Use of quotes, stories, examples and statistics
  • Use of body language and other best practices for public speaking
  • Use of audience engagement/participation practices

Submitted By

Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor

National Standards

Language Arts
Grades K-12

NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.7 Evaluating Data

Physical Education and Health
Grades 9-12

NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
NPH-H.9-12.4 Health Influences
NPH-H.9-12.5 Using Communication Skills to Promote Health
NPH-H.9-12.7 Health Advocacy

Common Core State Standards

English Language Arts
Speaking and Listening
Grades 9-10, 11-12

Comprehension and Collaboration
SL.9-10.1.  Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
SL.9-10.4.  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.

SL.9-10.5.  Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

SL.9-10.6.  Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.


Education World®    
Copyright © 2012 Education World