Cole Graber-Mitchell

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

A photo of the sun coming up over the earth with the words: Power Amherst College's Speaking Competition 2023

2023 Speaking Competition: Power

The 2023 College Speaking Competition will take place Feb. 22, 2023 and is open to students from all class years. Participants will present 5–7 minute speeches based on this year’s chosen theme: Power. Register by December 12.

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.

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

Gilbert Prize 1st place winner Kobe Thompson speaks on stage at Johnson Chapel 2022 Gilbert Prize 1st place winner Kobe Thompson on stage in Johnson Chapel during the annual speaking competition

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

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2022 Three Minute Thesis Competition

This year’s Three Minute Thesis Competition took place on May 5, 2022. Learn more and watch a recording of the event at the link below.


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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