877-542-5504 877-542-5504

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #: AELP-DEB0001
Author: Patsy Kretsch, Weiser High School, Weiser, Idaho Date: 1994

Grade Level(s): 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Language Arts/Debate

OVERVIEW: Debate students need to understand that how they say something is just as important as what they say. Making effective persuasive arguments by dealing with stage fright will bring success to every debate team.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this lesson is to improve debating skills by confronting stage fright, thereby, allowing the debater to effectively present winning arguments.


Students will be able to:

1. Understand the frustration of wanting to speak yet being afraid to speak.
2. Define stage fright.
3. Realize that the fear of speaking is natural and even helpful.
4. List common stage fright symptoms.
5. Recall their own experiences with stage fright.
6. Recognize their speaker strengths and weaknesses.
7. Develop ways to control and direct their fear of speaking.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS: Tape recorder and video camera


1. During class discussion, define and explain stage fright using specific examples. ( Vocal pauses, shaking limbs, dry mouth, voice volume too soft or loud, rate of speaking too fast or slow, shifty eye contact, monotone delivery, slouched poise, awkward gestures, body swaying etc. )
2. Have the students recall and list their own experiences with stage fright.
3. Share these written experiences verbally with the entire class.
A. Divide the class into groups with a combination of advanced and novice debaters in each group.
B. Give them each a list of 3 groups of impromptu topics.
Examples – Concrete words – Xmas tree, plane, skates
                   Abstract words – sorrow, joy, hope Quotations
C. The students will pick a word and take turns speaking about that word in front of their small group.
D. They will do this 3 times with one concrete word, abstract word and quotation.
E. The advanced speakers in each group will give a helpful and kind verbal critique of each novice speaker. The advanced speakers will congratulate them on their speaking strengths and give suggestions to improve their stage fright weaknesses.
F. The beginning speakers should list on paper their speaker strengths and weaknesses and suggestions for improvement.

5. On a follow-up day, activity 4 could be repeated in front of the entire class.
6. On a follow-up day, activity 4 could be implemented with tape player or video camera.


Your class, teacher and debate judges want you to do well. Every debater, novice or advanced, is nervous and must constantly deal with stage fright. Emphasize your strengths and work on needed improvements.

Practice, practice, practice! Success will follow!