Public Speaking Workshop

Here’s a fun exercise we recorded in a Public Speaking summer camp a couple of years ago. This is by no means the only kind of speaking we do in this workshop, but it’s a fantastic drill for matching the tone and timing of one’s voice to some externally-decided pattern, rather than just doing one’s own thing all the time!


For ages 12 – 18. Meets once a week for 90 minutes.
Public speaking is a very useful skill in life, from employment to participation in various organizations, as well as in the world of public performance. Even so, it is frequently reported as the number one phobia in our culture! One of the most valuable things this class does is also the simplest: it makes the student very familiar with public speaking, so that it’s not as scary anymore. It also provides considerable coaching as to the way one delivers a speech.


  • It’s a hands-on workshop with lots of humor.
  • It’s a chance to practice speaking in a safe environment—a mid-sized class of peers.
  • It’s practice in delivering well-written material orally–learning certain standards and best practices.
  • It’s a chance to be coached and to try it again and again until it’s better.
  • It’s lots and lots of practice in speaking regularly loud enough to be readily heard by an audience of modest size without amplification.
  • We do many different kinds of speaking, from jokes to limericks to announcements to excerpts from famous speeches.
  • We do a performance at the end of the semester—probably in conjunction with some other We, Montana! class. (This is required, and you’re committing to it when you register.)


  • It is not a speech-writing class. Let’s learn how to speak excellently first, using someone else’s writing—and then later, they can get into speech writing.
  • It’s not a debate class. Again, let’s learn how to speak well first…
  • It’s not class to be observed, but participated in.
  • It’s not a class in which you can get away with speaking softly. We have a zero tolerance policy, and we push students out of that “comfort zone” on day one.
  • It’s not a class in which students are coddled for being “shy”. This doesn’t mean that we’re mean to them; it means that the goal here is to learn the skills in 13 weeks, and we hit the ground running.


The semester-ending show will be made up of several solo pieces, with each student performing one feature piece of about two minutes in length. These are to be memorized. Other pieces will be required as well, such as jokes, poems, and announcements, in particular—and some of these will require memorization, while for some, scripts may be allowed.

A student delivers a solo piece in a Public Speaking Performance.

There is a mandatory pre-semester orientation meeting for this class. Please read the details carefully here.

While this class can be very helpful to any student who is willing to do the exercises, it is particularly fruitful for the one who is already a two-way communicator—and by that, I don’t mean someone who is already an excellent public speaker, but someone who can have a useful conversation with a stranger, where information is successfully exchanged. The student who is accustomed to being corrected, and to trying things again and again will do well. The student who is good at self-observation will do well. Some who aren’t good at this will, for example, be told to repeat a line louder, and will repeat it at exactly the same volume as before—and when you ask them if it was louder, they will tell you it was. So they’re not good at paying close attention to what comes out. This class will help with that, of course, since the entire class will be paying attention to what comes out of our mouths the whole time.

Homework consists largely of memorization work and practice in delivery.

We’ll work together to decide which pieces each student will be performing. There are some great speeches (such as the “I Have a Dream” speech) that are so famously stylistic in their original deliveries that they lose a lot when delivered in some other style of voice than the original speaker used. So we’ll work together on this. Students will be asked to present some ideas, which they typically find on YouTube, by looking up things they may already know about.

Two separate sections of this same class are scheduled for Spring 2022. They meet as follows:

Public Speaking Workshop #1
Tuesdays, 11:20am to 12:50pm

Public Speaking Workshop #2
Wednesdays 12:20pm – 1:50pm

Public Speaking and Class Guitar Recital (One night only)
Thursday 31 March, 2022
Performers report at 5:00
House opens at 6:00.
Show is at 6:30 pm.
Location to be announced

You’ll want to bring a notebook and a folder for various handouts, along with two or more pens. (You’ll be seated at tables.)

Our classroom comfortably holds 40
at seminar tables.


The following policies must be read and understood to enroll in this class. This is a lot of stuff because it takes a lot of details to run an excellent organization for everybody. Please invest the time to study all this. You will be asked at registration to give your word that you have done it.
Mandatory Pre-Semester Orientation
House Rules
Communication Policy
Code of Conduct
Performance & Rehearsal Attendance Policy
COVID-19 Policy
Special Needs Policy
Spring 2022 Performance Schedule

This course meets, as do all our courses, in the We, Montana! Great Room in South Billings.

Jack Pelham

$70 per student

Register at Google Forms.