Installing Confidence with Speak & Tell! Co-Directors Michelle Wright and Michael Bartley

Susan Koeppen with our 2018 Speak & Tell! campers

Special guest presenter Susan Koeppen from KDKA with our 2018 Speak & Tell! campers

One of the greatest orators of all time was a shy boy who spoke with a stutter and a lisp. Only through years of practice and honing his craft did Winston Churchill overcome the challenges he faced as a public speaker. Campers at Speak & Tell! will learn the tips and tricks that all great speakers use to capture the attention of an audience. Co-directors Michelle Wright and Michael Bartley are eager to share their experiences with this year’s campers.

What’s something that campers might be surprised to know about Speak and Tell?

Michael: The campers might be surprised to know that, above all the learning, they will have so much fun! My intention is to inspire and teach confidence in public speaking, but there will be laughter and fun stories about each other.

Michelle: I think our campers will be surprised to know that even the most accomplished speakers sometimes mess up and that’s okay. As long as you know your material and you’re enjoying yourself, an audience is very forgiving.

Speak & Tell! 2019 Co-Directors Michelle Wright and Michael Bartley

Speak & Tell! 2019 Co-Directors Michelle Wright and Michael Bartley

Why did you want to become a camp director and what are you looking forward to?

Michelle: I love working with teens. They are full of joy, intelligence and curiosity. I am excited to show them that the world is their stage and we can give them the tools to help give them a voice, both onstage and off.

Michael: For the past several years, I’ve mentored and taught high school students, age 14-18, the art of being on camera and of garnering confidence to tell stories. I jumped at the opportunity to become a co-director of Speak & Tell! We are all students of storytelling, and we all have the capacity to do it. But it takes a camp like this to be inspired to pick up the necessary public speaking tools and deliver a message or a story to others.

For those teens who are uncomfortable speaking to an audience, what would you like to tell them?

Michael: I would like to tell them that in my 30 plus years of public speaking, I have never ever met someone who didn’t have discomfort at first.  We all have experienced this. It is sharing with each other what those fears and feelings of discomfort are that becomes the first step to success in Speak & Tell!

Michelle: We need to re-think the idea of public speaking. It should be viewed as an opportunity to share who you are, what you know and what you believe. Like any task in life, you typically aren’t going to be good at something the first time you try it. It takes practice!

Who are some of the guest speakers you have lined up for Speak & Tell!, and what unique experiences do they bring to the camp?

Michael: Internationally renowned speaker Joyce Bender fought fear and bullying early in life because she has epilepsy. She was so afraid that while speaking she could go into a seizure.  How did she get over that fear? She is so excited to tell our campers.

Latashia Greene is one of our “Reel Teens” here at Steeltown. Latashia has had some true challenges in life. But, through learning about speaking and telling, Latashia not only has become confident in public speaking, she was chosen by Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a personal message and speech about her life to a large audience at the Carnegie Science Center. She will share with our campers what she learned and how she did it.

Michelle: I’m thrilled that my colleagues from WTAE-TV are going to join us for Speak & Tell! Sally Wiggin just retired following a long and illustrious career in broadcasting. She has so many stories to tell!  Sally will share with our campers how she recovered from moments when things started falling apart on stage or on-camera. She’ll also talk about how public speakers are judged just as much by how authentic they are as the words they speak.

Kelly Sasso is WTAE’s morning traffic reporter and noon anchor. She knows all too well the importance of thinking on your feet! Kelly will talk about her experiences ad-libbing and teach our campers the necessary skills for working off script.

At the end of Speak & Tell!,  what skills and experiences will campers take with them?

Michelle:  At the end of the camp, our take-away will be a newly found confidence in public speaking and in storytelling.

Michael:  Our campers will have the foundational tools to deliver a message and to tell a story to one person, or to a small group, or to an auditorium filled with hundreds of people.


In this 4-day camp designed for rising 8th to 12th graders, we gently guide campers through exercises that will help them conquer stage jitters, focus their message, develop a public “voice” and exude confidence in front of an audience. For more information about Speak & Tell! call us at 412-877-1888 or sign up today!

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