Public speaking skills help us navigate our complex social worlds. The ability to distill our thoughts into clear, coherent speech that can convince other people isn’t something we’re born with, but it is necessary for everyday life.”  
—Cole Graber-Mitchell ’22, winner of the 2021 Gilbert Prize

Amherst College enjoys a long legacy of teaching rhetoric and public speaking to its students. Our alumni practice powerful speaking in their lives, whether they work as teachers or politicians, or as leaders of corporations or communities. Whether you dread the idea of speaking in front of others or you love standing in the spotlight, we provide the Amherst College community with support for speakers of all comfort levels.

Public speaking allows you to be seen, heard, and understood.

You start with a great idea, an opinion, or just your own perspective. The next step is to share it.  Communicating effectively opens a world of possibilities. The ability to communicate—both in written and spoken form—is critical in academic pursuits, professional vocations, and life!

We’re here to support you.

We provide opportunities to learn and practice speaking skills and to participate in events that celebrate public speaking. We work with students, faculty, and staff to help with all aspects of public speaking, whether you’re a beginner or a practiced speaker looking to fine-tune. 

Everyone has the ability to be an effective public speaker. See our offerings below, and reach out to us to get started.

A series of cutout paper heads

2024 Speaking Competition: Democracy

This year’s competition encourages ALL students to speak about what matters to you based on this year’s theme: Democracy! Fill out the registration form and include a short proposal giving us an idea of what you’d like to talk about.

A young woman speaking in front of a video screen

2024 Three Minute Thesis Competition

The 2024 Amherst College Three Minute Thesis Competition took place on Wednesday, May 1 in Stirn Auditorium. Watch recordings of this and past years’ events, at the link below.

About Public Speaking at Amherst

Beyond the Podium

Meet Susan Daniels, Associate in Public Speaking, and learn about the various aspects of public speaking and how they apply to your work and life — at Amherst and beyond.

Consultations & Workshops

A woman speaking on an empty stage with an Amherst College banner behind her
Kateryna Havryshchuk, winner of the 2023 Annual Speaking Competition award for Best Overall Persuasive Speech, on stage in Johnson Chapel delivering her speech, "My Step Towards Peace."

Coaching for Individuals and Groups

  • For students: Meet with Susan Daniels to plan, revise, and rehearse a presentation, or to learn strategies for relaxing and gaining confidence in front of a live audience. Speech coaching is available for individuals or groups presenting together.  
  • For faculty and staff: Susan coaches speakers for individual presentations. She can support you in many ways, for instance: making a classroom lecture more dynamic, presenting at a professional conference, preparing for a TED talk. 

Faculty in the Classroom

Faculty may request customized speaking support for their courses. Susan Daniels offers consultations on presentation assignment design and evaluation, and she can lead in-class workshops to prepare your students to engage audiences with focus and confidence. In consultation with you, she designs instruction to meet your specific pedagogical goals on a variety of topics.


Susan G. Daniels

Susan G. Daniels

Associate in Public Speaking

Susan believes that public speaking is a powerful way to communicate our thoughts, ideas, and insights — and that everyone has the potential to develop the skills of a dynamic speaker. Learn more about Susan.

Make an Appointment       Follow on Instagram


artwork representing dialogue with speech bubbles and hands raised

Tools & Guides

Find tips for structuring a speech, being persuasive, telling a story, handling anxiety, evaluating performance, and more.

Seen and Heard: A Gallery of Public Speaking at Amherst

Susan Daniels, associate in public speaking, works with students, faculty and staff across campus to improve their communications skills, including the following: