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Persuasive or Informational Speech with Presentation Software

by Bernadette M. López-Fitzsimmons, M.L.S., M.A., M.A. | 24 Jan 2018
Resource Description: Teaching across academic disciplines reinforces cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP).  Incorporating delivering a speech using presentation software like PowerPoint or Prezi facilitates preparing learners for college-level for-credit courses taught in English.  This activity guides learners through the research process using primary and secondary sources—print and digital—and connects their research to writing a persuasive or information (biographical) piece to be delivered as an oral speech with presentation software.  Adding the use of technology—PowerPoint and/or Prezi—engages learners in multiple contemporary literacies which are necessary for academic and professional success in the twenty-first-century global environment.

This assignment will take four to five class periods.  Some instructors might be in a situation where they can invite guest speakers like educational technology trainers to provide training on PowerPoint and Prezi or information services librarians to introduce print and electronic resources available to learners for this specific assignment.  Inviting guest speakers allows learners to interact with other education professionals finding new venues for using English.

Other teachers might be able to invite historians to discuss historical figures relevant to the learners’ project.  A field trip to a historical society or museum might be possible as well; such an activity will introduce learners to museum education as a complement to the traditional classroom experience.  Museum educators are also available to make classroom visits or give talks at secondary schools, community, and four-year college as well as universities. 

The final project is an oral speech using presentation software and dressing in the period attire whenever possible.  The assignment can be modified for learners whose linguistic skills are limited but can allow those with advanced language skills to explore new ways to use English. Several options are suggested under “Caveats and Options.”

In summary, the activity prepares learners for university and professional success, providing practice among the four language learning skills as well as increasing speaking opportunities with peers, instructors, and non-traditional educators.
Audience: Adult, Secondary, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Intermediate
Duration: 4 to 5 sessions, 50-minute each; or 3to 4-hour block
Language Skill: Listening, Other, Speaking
Language Skill Other: Public speaking, collaborating, presenting, organizing ideas, synthesis of ideas and concepts, inquiry-based thinking, higher order thinking skills, information literacy skills
Content Area:

This assignment provides the instructor with multiple options for practicing oral English while facilitating the use of English across content areas and various types of experiential learning. The cumulative project includes


1.      Oral speech preparation and studying historical perspectives: persuasive speech or Informational speech (biographical) about a historical figure.  Learners may play the role of the historical figure dramatizing the persuasive speech.  Learners may recount the life and times of a historical person in the informational speech.  A third alternative is offered in “Caveats and Options.”

2.      Written Speech based on researching sources and taking notes.  This allows the teacher to cross-collaborate with other educators such as educational technology trainers, librarians, museum educators, historical society educators, historians, and others.  Field trips can be integrated depending on the situation.

3.      Delivering the speech with slide presentation software.  Allowing learners to use PowerPoint or Prezi engages learners in how to use educational technology effectively, which affords them the opportunity to interact with peers and other educational professionals.  Learners feel accomplished and proud of their slide presentations. 

4.      Dressing in a historical attire of the period. This renders an enjoyable, pleasant, and entertaining learning experience with a touch of historical reality through fashion.  The activity also lowers the affective filter, organically facilitating speaking after the event.


The final project is an oral speech using presentation software and dressing in the period attire whenever possible.  The assignment can be modified for learners whose linguistic skills are limited but can allow those with advanced language skills to explore new ways to use English. Several options are suggested under “Caveats and Options.” 

Materials and Technology:

Presentation software such as PowerPoint, Prezi, or Google Slides; Primary Digital Sources from the

History textbook; online encyclopedias; print handouts on historical individuals’ biographies and speeches (modified whenever necessary); Google images; graphic organizers; slide presentation planners; checklists; costumes for the historical period; computer and printer; computer lab classroom with projector and screen; index cards; training sessions using presentation software in computer lab by educational technologist and/or ESL instructor (e.g., group and/or individualized instruction); researching sources and documenting citations presentations by librarian and/or instructor; library print and digitized collections (databases).

Objective(s): Deliver a persuasive/informational oral speech using presentation software on a historical figure based on research from primary and secondary sources
Outcome(s): Learning Outcomes
  1. Learners will be prepared to prepare slide presentations with well-organized ideas.
  2. Learners will be able to synthesize theoretical concepts with their own ideas and experiences, incorporating these ideas into the slide presentations.
  3. Learners will be able to successfully and effectively deliver presentations in academic and professional settings.
  4. Learners will be able to use the four language learning during this project.
  5. Learners will be able to collaborate with peers, instructors, and non-traditional educators, or colleagues on similar multifaceted projects


  1. The teacher will explain to learners that they will have to write an oral speech based on a historical figure of their choice. The teacher will walk learners through each stage which leads up to the culminating project: delivering an oral speech using presentation software. 
  2. The teacher will guide students through the research process where learners use primary and secondary sources – print and electronic.  The instructor might invite an information services librarian to give a class on historical sources including databases with online articles, images, and streamed videos. The teacher will remind learners that the written speech and slide show will be based on researching primary and secondary sources
  3. The teacher will introduce learners to several historical figures through readings from textbooks, encyclopedias, biographies, web sites, digitized collections, etc. Learners will be engaged in a number of scaffolded activities observing how each historical figure contributed to the society of the period. Graphic organizers will be distributed for researching sources and taking notes.
  4. If possible, the teacher might invite a guest speaker such as a museum educator, historian, historical society educator, etc., to discuss the importance of historical figures and perspectives.  Depending on time, location, and funding, the teacher might be able to coordinate a field trip to a historical society or museum related to the assignment.  Learners will gain experiential learning experience through such activities, building upon prior knowledge learned the traditional classroom.
  5. After studying several historical figures, the teacher will invite learners to discuss their preferred historical figure, explaining their reasons for their preference.  Learners will be divided into groups of three or four.  They will select a group speaker who will present the group’s ideas in whole class share.
  6. The teacher will have learners write the names of three historical figures they would like to investigate for their oral speech and presentation on an exit slip.  In the following class, learners will share their three choices with their peers in small group work.
  7. The teacher will have learners use the library to engage in preliminary research on their selected figures. Learners must decide on one historical figure for their culminating project based on their research.
  8. The teacher will invite a librarian to review important sources related to this project.  Learners will bring articles, books, or chapters to class to use in taking notes.  The teacher will distribute a graphic organizer for researching sources and taking notes. The librarian will explain how to cite sources and create a reference list at the end of the written speech and the slide presentation. Both the instructor and librarian will introduce the concept of plagiarizing.
  9.  The teacher will have learners discuss their historical figures for the oral speech and presentation in small groups.  They will start to draft their introduction, three supporting ideas, conclusion, references, and document several possible quotes to be used in their written speech and slide presentation. The teacher will provide a graphic organizer to write the source and possible a quotes, paraphrases, or summaries.
  10. The teacher will explain the two options for the oral speech: persuasive or informational (biographical) speech on a historical person.  The teacher will discuss the details of each learner’s choice in individualized consultations.
  11. The teacher will have learners write three drafts of their persuasive or informational speech.  After each draft is prepared, the teacher will collect it and provide explicit feedback on how to improve or re-focus the speech.
  12. The teacher will meet with each learner to discuss the final draft of the speech. In the consultation, the teacher will discuss the ideas that should appear in the slide presentation.
  13. Learners are afforded opportunities to includes historical and cultural characteristics from their native countries or their families’ homelands.
  14. After all the consultations are conducted, the teacher will give learners a graphic organizer for planning and organizing ideas on slides. Learners will discuss their ideas in small group work.  Learners will then work on organizing their ideas for the slide presentation individually, using the graphic organizers as a guide.
  15. The teacher will help learners with in-text citations and references at the end of the speech and presentation.  The librarian may also assist learners with this activity.
  16. The teacher will review the parts of a slide presentation, using the graphic organizer for planning and organizing ideas for the presentation.
  17. The teacher will invite an educational technology trainer to instruct learners on how to use presentation software correctly.  This lesson will take place in the computer lab or laptops will be distributed in the regular classroom.  Learners will have hands-on experience using PowerPoint. They will also be able to search for images in Google Image. The educational technologist and librarian will help learners insert text and images into PowerPoint.
  18. As learners complete their speeches and transfer the ideas to the slides, the teacher will provide individualized feedback.  Learners will work in small groups to informally practice their presentation talks.  They may use index cards or other cues.
  19.  The teacher will invite learners to wear something their historical figure wore during a particular period. Some learners might wear a complete costume while others might choose to a smaller article of clothing and an object reminiscent of that particular era.
  20. Students will have to print handouts to distribute to their teacher and classmates on the day of their presentation.
  21. Students will learn how to use PowerPoint, search for images in Google Image, and insert text and images into PowerPoint.
  22. Students will deliver their presentations in class.  They will get dressed up (casual formal) to deliver their presentations.  They distribute print (PowerPoint Note Version for handouts) to their classmates and the teacher.  They will also submit a written speech to the teacher.
  23. The teacher will conduct a summative assessment on the entire project based on a rubric: preparation, speech writing, presentation creativity, oral presentation and written speech, citing sources, references, etc.  Learners will have been formatively assessed throughout the stages of the project to allow them to make adjustments and improvements.


  1. The instructor will conduct a diagnostic with regard to learners' knowledge of giving oral presentations.
  2. The instructor and/or librarian will be monitoring progress throughout each stage of the project.  This will be the formative assessment.
  3. The final presentation will be the summative assessment



Caveats and Options

  1. Teachers will provide learners with options in preparing a persuasive or informational speech:

·         Write about a historical figure (biographical; informational) providing the audience with historical details of this individual’s life.

·         Take the role of a historical figure preparing and delivering an original persuasive speech to the audience during the same historical period.


      The second option is geared toward more advanced learners because they must prepare a 

       persuasive speech rather than a biographical one (informational speech and  



      Some dramatization and total physical response (TPR) might be appropriate.


       This option might also be attractive to extroverted learners rather than introverted or

       quieter learners. 


  1. Alternative:

      Teachers might want to include a third alternative for learners who are not as advanced in  

       English language skills.

·         Write a biographical account as the informational speech of the selected historical figure.

·         Include quotes from their historical figure – dramatizing these quotes. TPR might be applied whenever appropriate.


      Though this modified assignment option is in the middle-of-the road, it might facilitate

       preparing the speech and presentation by relying on brief original quotes rather than

       creating a lengthier original writing. 


      Learners might want to take a risk in enacting several quoted excerpts of the historical

      individual without experiencing increased anxiety in writing a persuasive speech.


      This modification might help some learners who not risk-takers to experience a new way

       to use English.



Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). (n.d.). Primary source sets. In Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Retrieved July 31, 2017, from

The Library of Congress (LC). (n.d.). American memory. In The Library of Congress. Retrieved July 31, 2017, from    

Purdue University: The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue. (2017). Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation: Quick Guide. In Owl: Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved July 31, 2017, from

Purdue University: The Writing Lab & the OWL at Purdue. (2017). Effective persuasion presentation. In Owl: Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved July 31, 2017, from    

Purdue University: The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue. (2017). General writing resources. In Owl: Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved July 31, 2017, from

Purdue University: The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue. (2017). Transitional devices. In Owl: Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved July 31, 2017, from

Walter, T. (2004). Teaching English Language Learners: The How-to Handbook. New York, NY: Pearson Publishing & Longman.

Useful Links:
  1. Library of Congress American Memory (Collection of Digitized Primary Sources)
  2. National Archives  (NARA)
  3. Digital Public Library of America  (DPLA)


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TESOL Interest Section: Computer-Assisted Language Learning, English as a Foreign Language, Intensive English Programs, Second Language Writing, Speech, Pronunciation, and Listening