Persuasive speech assignment for younger students

Recently I had an opportunity to teach public speaking for middle school students — in our area that includes students ages 10-14. I developed some new assignments for them.

This was the persuasive assignment:

  • Topic: “What is the best pet for a family?” Students were to be specific about the pet, so rather than just say “dog” they were to select a breed.
  • Length: 6 minutes1 minute on a “needs” section, 1 minute on each of three main points, plus 2 minutes to cover the introduction, transitions, and conclusion.
  • Structure: The students used a needs/benefits structure. After the introduction, they did a needs section, which focused on what they saw as a family’s needs and limitations for a pet. The main points focused on benefits of their particular pet and how it addressed the needs. They were also to include at least one counterargument — a potential downside of their pet — and address it. It is essentially the Motivated Sequence but without the visualization step IV.
  • Outside sources: At least two required.
  • Visual aids: Two required. I was able to allow the pets as visual aids, but pictures would work too.

This assignment was a lot of fun and the students worked hard to make a good case for their favorite pets. They needed a lot of help and examples for the needs section so we worked on those in class and created a master list from which they could select those that would apply to their topic.


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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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