What really is the value of a public speaking class?

$588.87, in Manhattan.


It started with a simple question: If you wanted to enroll in a public speaking class outside of undergrad, how much would you have to shell out?

As I visited first-year seminars this week to introduce the program, I hit on all of my usual points about the Speaking Fellows: we work peer-to-peer, we are professionally trained, we are flexible and accessible, and we are free. I’ve always mentioned that last point to contrast what public speaking classes can cost outside of undergrad, but without any real statistics. So this week I set out on a quest to discover what really is the value of a public speaking class outside of Barnard.

I started my search an coursehorse.com: a good aggregator of classes and workshops in NYC. They compile classes, workshops, sessions etc. from large professional companies and also “hackerspaces,” pop-up shops, and peer-to-peer classes. I used this source to get the full range: public speech classes geared towards corporate professions, and public speaking workshops for the average small business person, storyteller, New Yorker…

I made a list of the top twenty-five Public Speaking classes offered during fall 2013 – “top” referring to their listings on search engines, so that means a combination of popularity, number of reviews, web-presence, and other factors. There may be more then 25 classes offered this fall, but if they exist then they are very hard to find online outside of a private network – so I’m confident that my list of 25 is a good representative sample of the kinds and costs of Public Speaking workshops offered in Manhattan.

I made a chart of the course title, organization offering the course, location, dates and duration, and cost. I imported the chart into ArcGIS to map the results.


The most expensive program I encountered cost $2699.00 dollars for a three day workshop, offered by NetCom Learning.

The least expensive workshops ranged between $25.00 and $35.00 for hour to two-hour long sessions, offered by The Story Source.

The average cost of a public speaking workshop in Manhattan is $588.87.

I make no claim in my research to know anything about the quality of the classes I’ve investigated or the organizations that offer them, but assuming all else equal, I can draw a few conclusions. (1) Supply and demand. New Yorkers (a) want public speech classes and (b) are willing to pay for them – $588.87 on average. (2) Public speech classes are remarkably versatile and do not strictly target corporate/professional/executive fields.They focus (just like the Speaking Center) on a range of topics from executive presentation skills, to pitching articles and blogs, to storytelling, to overcoming public speaking panic, to conflict resolution and negotiation, to sales and marketing. (3) The training I received to become a speaking fellow – 1 semester of theory seminars, skills labs, coaching sessions, practice workshops, etc. – is utterly incomparable to any other public speaking skills course offered in New York City.

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