A museum display of six all-white statues of men from the 1860s, which represent the jobseekers and visitors to the Lincoln White House. In the center, a man in a suit raises a finger as he speaks. Opposite him, a short man in a top hat is pointing to him with his mouth open, as if they are engaged in a debate.
Large figures representing jobseekers and visitors to the Lincoln White House. Photo © Maxwell MacKenzie.

Coaching Student Performances

A guide that instructs teachers on how to use oratory Podium Points to improve students’ public speaking and performance skills.

Common Core Standards


Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.


Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

LEARNING OBJECTIVESStudents will refine their oratory performance through arts-integrated techniques.


  1. Read through the general tips section before you begin to coach your student on his/her oratorical performance. 
  2. As your students grow as public speakers, use the Coaching Guide to fix isolated and prolonged speaking issues

General Helpful Tips


Easier Fixes

Go for the easy fixes first. Volume, pace, posture, eye contact, and diction are usually the low-hanging fruit. Tone, natural gestures, and emphasis can be much more challenging.

Offering Feedback

Start out your constructive criticism with a compliment (warm feedback) before offering something for them to address (cool feedback). If time permits, let them try out whatever you’ve asked them to address and give them immediate feedback. It’s OK to ask them to intensify the direction if it’s not enough.

Rephrasing for positivity

Avoid using the word “don’t” (e.g. “Don’t slump your shoulders”) when coaching. Rather, see if you can frame things in a positive way (e.g. “I’d love to see what happens if you really lift those two words”…or “I’m going to challenge you to make eye contact with 5 different people”).

What You Need