Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Presenting With Confidence

Speech and Debate

Adam Yeargin | Published: November 4th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course Composition, Creative Writing
  • Time Frame Time Frame 1-2 class period(s)
  • Duration More 120 minutes


In this lesson, students will discuss aspects of performance anxiety when speaking in front of an audience. They will identify strategies to manage these symptoms and create a tool to help improve their confidence when speaking to a group.

Essential Question(s)

What does confidence look and feel like? Is confidence innate or learned? How can you manage feelings to appear and feel more confident?



Students generate a word cloud to express their thoughts about talking or presenting in front of an audience.


Students compare their feelings before and after presenting in front of a group.


Students watch and discuss videos related to anxiety and other feelings surrounding public speaking and how to address and manage these feelings.


Students create a plan to prepare for managing anxiety prior to their next speech.


Students reflect on the lesson, considering what they did, why it matters, and how they will apply their new knowledge going forward.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Student devices with Internet access

  • 1-2 minute speech of any kind (prepared prior to the lesson)

  • Sample Speeches (attached, optional)

  • I Thought I'd Feel… handout (attached, one per student)

  • Note Catcher (attached, one per student)

  • Poster paper and markers for anchor charts

  • What, So What, Now What handout (attached, optional)


Display slide 5 of the attached Lesson Slides. Begin by asking students to reflect on the following question:

What words come to mind when you think about talking or presenting in front of an audience?

Create a class word cloud with students' responses. Students can add words using their own devices and the link you provided, or you can enter the words as they share out. Observe the trends that you see emerging, and use the larger words (those with greater representation) to guide discussion about the general feelings students have about public speaking.


Divide the class into groups of 4-6. Display slide 6 and pass out a copy of the attached I Thought I'd Feel handout. Using a modified version of the I Used To Think, But Now I Know instructional strategy, ask students to consider their thoughts before delivering a speech to their group. Give students a few minutes to complete the left side of the handout only (“I Think I’ll Feel…”), anticipating their feelings prior to speaking in front of the group.

Display slide 7. Allow students time to take turns speaking in front of their groups using the 1-2 minute speeches of their choice.

Display slide 8. After the students have finished speaking in front of their groups, give them time to complete the right side of the handout (“But I Actually Felt…”), describing what they felt as they were speaking and how they feel now that they've finished speaking.

When students have completed their handouts, give them an opportunity to share with the class and compare their thoughts and feelings.


Display slide 9 and pass out a copy of the attached Note Catcher handout to each student. Using a variation of the Jigsaw strategy, divide the class into three groups and assign a different video (linked below) to each group, such that each student will watch only one video.

As members of each group watch their assigned video, ask them to use their Note Catchers to collect ideas for managing anxiety and building confidence in public speaking. Allow 7-8 minutes for this activity.

Display slide 10. Bring students' attention back to the whole group, and begin a discussion in regard to the main ideas students have taken from the videos. Have students share out ideas and techniques that they learned for managing performance anxiety, and, when appropriate, have them practice those techniques as a class (deep breaths, stance, eye contact, etc.). Create an Anchor Chart to facilitate the discussion of the following:

  • what these techniques would look like in practice;

  • how they address the feelings students brainstormed on the word cloud; and

  • the feelings students listed during the I Think I’ll Feel, But I Actually Felt activity.

Be sure to distinguish between inward-facing and outward-facing techniques. Review the word cloud as a class to make sure that all the main ideas have been addressed.


Display slide 11. Inform students that they will be creating a personal plan that will allow them to thoughtfully prepare to manage their nerves before their next speech.

Display slide 12. Have students create their plans using the guidelines shown on this slide. They should each create a plan using a checklist format or another format of their choice. They can keep and use this plan the next time they are preparing to give a speech in front of a group.

After giving students sufficient time to work on their plans, have them trade tools with a partner for peer evaluation. Give students time to make revisions based on any feedback or suggestions they received.


Display slide 13. Have students record a short video reflection on the lesson using the What? So What? Now What? strategy. Ask students to describe what they did in this lesson, why it's important, and how they will apply it going forward. Allow them to film themselves answering these questions using Flip, or have them film using use their device's camera app and submit their videos via Google Classroom, Canvas, or any other classroom management system. If technology is a barrier, use the attached What, So What, Now What handout as an alternative.