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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: The Power of Speech

Type: Assignment
Subjects: History, Social Studies
Grades: Grades 11-12
Duration: 1 lesson
Purpose: To identify and apply qualities of an effective oral presentation
Summary: Students will listen to political speeches from D-Day and use the qualities of an effective speech to write a speech for the prime minister telling the Canadian public of the events and impact of D-Day.

Before Exploring

In a general class discussion, ask students to identify times when they have seen or heard leaders of today making a formal address on television. This can be from premiers, prime ministers, or foreign leaders such as presidents or royalty. Ask them to assess the impact of such speeches on them. Take a poll to find out how many students opt to listen to such reports, how many access the synopsis on news or computer, and how many ignore these speeches altogether.

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic D-Day: Canadians Target Juno Beach on the CBC Digital Archives website and have them listen to the addresses from Prime Minister Mackenzie King (the clip titled "We have every reason for confidence") and King George VI (the clip titled "King George VI addresses his subjects on D-Day").

Ask them to critique the two speeches and make predictions about the probable impact of the speeches. Have them compare these two speeches with any current speeches by national and world leaders, and look for the qualities that are most desirable in such communications and those that detract from the presentations.

Next, have students write a speech, two to three minutes long, as if they were speech writers for the prime minister. They will explain in general terms the invasion of Normandy and attempt to generate support and enthusiasm for the soldiers and the attack.

Assessment Tip
Create or access a rubric that will help students organize their speech. There are many good rubrics online that can help you set parameters for the qualities expected in a speech. Decide with students which rubric best fits the task.

Revisit and Reflect

Students present their speeches to one another in groups of five to six. They can critique themselves and their peers using the rubric selected by the class.


Students can apply a rubric to any speech presented by a world leader. Who do they think is an effective speaker and why? Who do they think is not effective and why?