Public Speaking Workshop

Some current and former Public Speaking students came in this Summer to record Three Chartreuse Buzzards. It’s a great piece for teaching attention to the timing of speech, as each one has to match the timing of the rest.

This two-semester course is for students from 12 to 18 years old, and is aimed at improving public speaking skills. Many surveys have shown that public speaking is the most common fear that people in America have, and this class is aimed at nipping that one in the bud. Students will speak together as a class, and will also do solo work in front of the whole class. The underlying theme of the class is “It’s not about you.” (Meaning, that it’s about the audience getting the message.) And the number one skill to be learned? How to speak loudly enough to be heard. Because of this, the whole class learns to recite this silly video together:

Students will also work on some group performances, where they all recite a piece together. Among other things, this helps each student to develop a sense of timing that’s more careful than he or she might have to use in a solo speech.

Students work at their own level in this class, and may repeat the course. We’ll work with limericks, tongue twisters, famous speeches, poems, and so forth. We work frequently from the stage so that the student becomes comfortable there. And in the second semester, we’ll also work regularly with microphones.

Each week, we go around the table doing certain exercises individually, and the teacher will work with each student briefly in front of the class. In the event of a particularly difficult line in a student’s speech, the whole class might be asked to give that same line a try, one by one. We’ll practice short pieces, such as tongue twisters—and while this has its academic value, to be sure, it also has the value of having students regularly put on the spot to be ready to speak on demand, without having time to get extra nervous about it.

Anytime we have performances or other events, we tend to draw from the Public Speaking Workshop and Skits Workshop casts to do announcements. This happens with our choral concerts, as well as with talent shows, for example. In our Christmas show, we’ll likely do an extended reading from Luke Chapter 2, and the Public Speaking cast will be the primary readers for that. We’ll also have a year-ending performance specifically for the Public Speaking Workshop in which they’ll all get to do their solo pieces.

Thanks to Penelope Christian for coming in to record the solo piece she chose for Spring 2020. We don’t normally choose speeches from the theater, but this one’s so fun, it seemed like a no-brainer!

Some of our repertoire will be assigned by the teacher, but the main speeches each student will do are chosen by the student, with teacher approval. These are generally real speeches from history, but may (with approval) be speeches from movie scenes or from plays. They are to be between 1 and 2 minutes in length, and to be pieces that the particular student can deliver reasonably well. Keep in mind that not all speeches are for everyone. For example, the stellar “I Have a Dream” speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. is iconic, not only for its words, but because we know it from audio recordings. The farther the speaker gets from the sound of Dr. King’s voice, then, the more awkward the speech sounds to the audience that is familiar with the original. So think it through as you’re considering what to do: What speech can *I* deliver well? Students will need to come to class with a PRINTED version of the speeches they intend to deliver.

There are no auditions for this class, but we want to make sure that each student enrolled is really ready to overcome the fear of speaking in front of others. If a student’s not quite ready, he or she may simply refuse to operate when called upon in class, and that would turn what would otherwise be a great experience into a terrible one. So, parents, please give some careful thought as to whether your student is ready for this–and if you want to talk it over with the teacher in advance, or even to meet together in a parent/student/teacher conference, that’s a great idea!


Click here to register ASAP
as space is limited.

A Code of Conduct agreement is required for this course. This helps to ensure the positive environment in each class. This document is being updated and will be published this summer.

Mondays, 1:45 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
First Semester runs September 14 through our December 15 concert.
Second Semester runs January 11 through through April 26.

Concert Dates are to be announced. We are shooting for three events in the 2020/2021 school year: 1 in mid-October (October 26th?), 1 in mid-December (December 14th?), and one at the end of the school year, around April 20-26th.

Students will need to provide printed (or handwritten) texts for the speeches they intend to give. Beyond that, no course materials are required.

Generally, we want the students to dress very well at all performances—so as to look like performers at a fancy event, rather than like school kids in class. Depending on the particulars of the performance our dress requirements may vary, but to give you an idea, we have copied the chorus dress code below.
Chorus Dress Code
We have a dress code for our concerts, because we are cool like that! All chorus members are expected to dress in all black as follows:
Boys/Men: Black slacks. Black belt and black shoes. Black long-sleeve, button-down shirts.
Girls/Women: Black bottoms of modest length, whether slacks, skirts, or dresses. Modest black tops, long or short sleeve. Sequins or other sparklies are OK, provided they do not change the color from the basic black look. NOTE: Ballroom gowns are too fancy for this event, and would stick out. Meanwhile, cowboy boots and hats with all black are too un-fancy, and would stick out in the opposite way!

24 students

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

Sable Oring reads a speech at the semester-end performance for the Public Speaking Workshop. Notice there’s no microphone, as we work to have enough volume to fill a medium-sized room.

Jack Pelham

This course is part of our Homeschool Program. You’ll find our fee structure detailed here.