Public Speaking Workshop: American Red Cross Youth Leadership Program

When Lilliana Sherwood from the American Red Cross approached the PRSSA executive board at St. John Fisher, asking if we would like to help out with their Youth Leadership Program, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity! For this Youth Leadership program, we were asked to run a workshop regarding public speaking. As our executive board is comprised of four Media management majors, we were eager to begin working on this project that is right up our alley.


For the workshop, high school students from Monroe County schools came to St. John Fisher. Allison Rudy, Olivia Rotondo, Jade Rood, and Gianna Sarkis, along with the help of our PRSSA chapter advisor, Professor Arien Rozelle, led and facilitated the workshop. We decided that a mock press conference, about a fictional tornado that has struck, would be the perfect way for the students to practice public speaking while discussing communication in a disaster situation, tying in the learning objectives of the Red Cross.

We began by discussing public speaking: the importance of it, as well as the difficulties a speaker may face. Our audience of 24 high school students was lively and involved, sharing their insights with the room. We then watched an example press conference, and broke off into two classrooms, then again into two groups. Making sure each student got an equal chance to speak. For our activity, each student was either a member of the City of Rochester Mayor’s office speaking to the press, or a member of the press, asking questions and probing for information.


The students were engaged and enthusiastic, making the activity fun for us and for them. While the students participated in the press conference, the facilitators recorded it so that we could watch it afterwards. This gave the students a chance to learn from, and get feedback regarding their public speaking. The workshop went quickly, and smoothly; it was a great success!

Thanks to Lilliana Sherwood for asking us to lead the workshop, as well as the rest of the Red Cross Volunteers who helped with the activity.


Author: Allison Rudy



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