Project Soapbox

Lesson 1: Introduction to Project Soapbox


The purpose of this lesson is for students to identify qualities of a good speech and explore an issue that matters to them.

Student Objectives: 

  • Define soapbox
  • Practice public speaking
  • Determine qualities of good and bad speeches



Common Core Standard: 


  • Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.

Bell Ringer: What’s a Soapbox? (5 minutes)

Project the Soapbox Image on an overhead LCD projector and have students answer the three questions in their journals.

Before: Introduction to the Week (5-10 minutes)

Review questions from the bell-ringer, pointing out that the speaker is impassioned and getting some response from members of the crowd. Explain that soapbox speeches have been made since the late 19th century and provide a working definition of soapbox as:

SOAPBOX: a raised platform on which one stands to make an impromptu speech, often about a political subject

The soapbox speech originates from the days when speakers would elevate themselves to an audience by standing on a wooden crate, or soapbox, to make an impromptu speech about a political topic or community issue. This speech gives the opportunity to persuade the audience to understand, care, act, vote, or speak out on an issue that affects the community. This election season your voice matters, and Mikva Challenge wants you to get on that soapbox and tell the next president about an issue that affects your community. Your speech might offer a solution, create awareness, ask the audience or elected officials to act, or call the president to action. In two minutes or less, what is the most pressing issue facing young people today, why is it important, and what should be done to address it?

During: What Makes a Great Speech? (15 minutes)

Ask students to brainstorm what makes a great speech and what makes a bad speech and chart answers on a T-chart on the board. Transition from the qualities identified by students to the qualities of a good speech as identified on the Project Soapbox Speech Rubric. Distribute a rubric to each student and very quickly run through the main ideas.

Distribute the Evaluating Speeches: Identifying the Qualities of a Good Speech worksheet and explain to students that they will use the qualities discussed in class and those on the rubric to help evaluate if a speech is good or bad and why. Play a few excerpts of speeches from the Internet. We recommend using examples of good and bad speeches (but not telling students ahead of time). Here are a few recommended speeches you can choose from (or use others):

Examples of poor speeches:

  • Phil Davison’s speech for Stark County Treasurer in Ohio is aggressive and angry.
  • The assignment for speech class was to give a bad speech. This young man does his best to deliver a pretty bad speech.

Examples of good speeches:

After: Instant Speech Challenge (15 minutes)

Explain that part of making good speeches is speaking confidently. Explain to students that confidence can be gained through practice. In order to kick off the practice, have students participate in an instant speech challenge. Have students select an Instant Speech Topics card and make a 30–60 second speech on the topic they select. You should model this for them by randomly selecting a card and giving an impromptu speech.

NOTE: You may also choose to pick 3 or 4 students each day over the next few days to do the instant speech challenge (randomly pick their names from a hat) to break it up.

Closer: Explain Homework (3 minutes)

Remind students that what helps someone give a good speech is when they care about the topic. Explain to students that now it is their turn to think about something that they really care about for the topic of their soapbox speech.

Lesson Intro Video

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(Next Lesson) Lesson 2: Structuring a Speech
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Comment ( 1 )

  • Erika

    Here are a few extra videos of great Soapbox speeches!

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