Informational Speeches on Issues that Matter

Speech Research

We hear from our teachers that students often struggle to craft effective presentations, for a variety of reasons.  

In some cases they suffer from “stage fright,” and are nervous about speaking in front of their peers.  Others have a tough time finding topics, organizing their thoughts, and presenting them coherently, while simultaneously engaging their audience.  

Having students conduct research and then prepare presentations around issues that matter to them can help alleviate some of these challenges.

With this in mind, we present the assignment “Introduce an Issue: Informational Paragraph and Speech/Presentation” where students share issues that matter to them in the upcoming presidential election. It’s informative, timely, and good research and speaking practice!

The original assignment (linked here) was created by the Los Altos High School English Department and modified by Margaret Bennett and Elizabeth Tompkins for their 10th grade World Literature honors class. Margaret told us she loves this assignment, and gave us a number of reasons to explain why she thinks it’s so effective:

  • It establishes a strong process by getting kids to ask questions and form essential questions, and mirrors the senior project her students will have to complete when they reach the 12th grade
  • students become really skilled at doing research, including using databases and assessing bias and credibility
  • there is a lot of student ownership as each student chooses his/her own issue to research

Although this assignment was designed for students in the 10th grade, you can easily modify it to address any students’ current level and interests.

Click Here for to download the Word Doc version


talkIntroduce an Issue: 

Informational Paragraph and Speech/Presentation

Assignment:

Research an issue (an important topic or problem for debate or discussion) of interest to you in this year’s election and introduce it to your peers in a concise 3-4 minute informative speech.

 

Points:

This is a major assignment worth 80 points (60 points written speech, 20 points oral presentation).

 

Process:

When creating your speech, please follow the process below.

  1. Topic – Clearly state the topic you are researching (Ex. Renewable Energy).

Find a current topic that satisfies these questions:

My topic is ______________________________

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it a real issue, with genuine significance? ____________________
  • Are you personally interested in this issue? ____________________
  • Is the issue narrow enough to be manageable? ________________
  1. Develop a List of Questions – Add depth to your issue by asking probing questions (minimum of 5+ questions).
  1. Preliminary Research/Starting the Annotated Bibliography – Look for answers to your questions. Compile at least three articles reflecting multiple views on the issue which expand your understanding as to the depth and complexity of the topic.
  1. Isolate the Issue/Building a Knowledge Base – Narrow your topic to a specific issue – clearly state the issue that needs attention. (Ex.: Renewable Energy in the US in the next 10 years)

My narrowed topic is ________________________________________

  1. Essential Question – A paper’s essential question is “What question will your speech try to answer?” In this case, you are telling us why your narrowed topic should be an issue we care about in the election.

My essential question is: Why is ___<narrowed topic>  an important issue in this year’s election?

  1. Further Research & Supporting Points – Now that you have your focused, essential question, go back to searching for the best four credible sources, reflecting multiple perspectives, to expand your understanding.

Choose three points that support your question and help convince us that your topic is an important issue in this year’s elections.

This is an important issue we should care about because:

  • First Point: ________________________________________________
  • Second Point: ______________________________________________
  • Third Point: _______________________________________________
  1. Annotated Bibliography – Create an Annotated Bibliography in MLA format. Your annotations should note the important features of each article and how you used the article.
  1. Write your Informative Speech – Outline your speech (scroll down to the bottom of this doc). Then, use your outline to write a short, informative speech (approximately 300 words) in which you synthesize multiple sources about your subject in order to inform your audience.

Assert a clear thesis that organizes your complex ideas. Use your three supporting points and specific evidence from at least three sources to clearly, accurately, concisely and logically help your audience (fellow students) follow your line of reasoning and communicate the significance of the issue. Be sure to credit your sources in your speech when you reference a work or incorporate it as evidence.

Remember, your goal is to inform your listeners of an important issue without taking a position. Your speech should genuinely teach your audience about your topic, but should not include your opinion on the topic.

Be sure to create a strong title.

This speech should be about 1 page, double spaced. Be concise. Every word matters. See the models provided.

 

While there are many ways to organize a speech, we recommend you follow this format:

Introduction (about 2 sentences):

  • Hook your readers with a general introduction to your topic & focused issue.
  • Tell us the scope and significance of the issue you will be teaching us about!

 

The Extent /Reason to Listen (1-2 sentences):

  • Reveal your knowledge of the history/general background surrounding your issue as well as why your listeners should be interested in this topic. Assert why this is a significant topic (may have already done so in introduction).

 

Main Point 1 (about 2-3 sentences):

  • Give clear statement of first point.
  • Provide supporting evidence (possibly paraphrased).
  • Include citation of evidence & explanation/commentary

 

Transition to next point…..

Main Point 2 (about 2-3 sentences):

  • Give clear statement of second point.
  • Provide supporting evidence (possibly paraphrased).
  • Include citation of evidence & explanation/commentary

 

Transition to next point…

Main Point 3 (about 2-3 sentences):

  • Give clear statement of third point.
  • Provide supporting evidence (possibly paraphrased).
  • Include citation of evidence & explanation/commentary

 

Conclusion (1-2 sentences):

  • Reassert main idea that we should take-away from your speech. What is the main idea we should have learned about from this?

 

You may choose to organize your ideas into one larger paragraph or several smaller ones.

 

Peer review:

Rehearse – Practice your speech paying attention to delivery, including eye contact, volume and pronunciation. You may use note cards. Consider making strategic use of digital media to enhance your audience’s understanding of your findings and to add interest.

 

Final Products:

Final speech (oral and written). 80 points major: 60 points written, 20 points oral

Due the day after your speech:

  • REFLECTION on the process (typed and printed hard copy due the day after you give your speech – please also put in your “shared with teacher” folder).

View the rubric for this assignment here.


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