Story by Gina Wong and Susan Lopez
Public speaking can be someone’s greatest fear, but for others, they find it as a way to communicate with others and bring awareness to issues close to their heart.
The seventh annual Speech Tournament was open to all students who are currently enrolled in Communications 101. The Seventh Annual Speech Tournament took place on Friday, May 17, in the Great Hall.
More than 50 competitors delivered their speeches in two different categories: informative or persuasive speaking. All competed for a prize pool of $375 with first place taking home $200.
The event was sponsored by ASO, which provided food, cash prizes, and trophies for the winners.
Throughout the tournament, speakers went through the first round delivering their speeches in different classrooms to finally move to the second round at the Great Hall.
Students tackled topics like drug addiction, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), equality for women, gun laws, and more.
Associate Speech Professor Michelle Silver said participating students gave five to seven-minute speeches, either in the informative or persuasive category, and the tournament offered students an opportunity to practice their speaking skills outside of the classroom.
“It’s a form that provides a friendly, competitive environment with their peers,” Silver said. “It also allows students to advocate for issues that are important to them and gives them an opportunity to talk about issues that they deeply care about. So it is a great resume bolstering activity and provides them with real-life experience.”
Silver said some of the judges in the first round were from Pierce faculty, as well as some from California State University, Northridge, and they were looking for overall speaker style, organization of speech and delivery.
Silver said students were expected to speak extemporaneously.
“They combine the best aspects of the speech and deliver it in a conversational way,” Silver said. “We don’t call it memorization, but we like students to learn and be familiar with the speech. Students can have an outline to refer down to, but they should not be reading from the outline.”
Communications Department Chair Yeprem Davoodian said the informative speeches are where the presentations are a bit more unique because students can talk about anything and everything.
“They choose their own topics,” Davoodian said. “So it could be about Disney World or about an assembly bill passing. In our department, we are a believer in academic freedom and an environment where we call it an exchange of free ideas.”
Cash prizes and trophies were awarded. The first place winner recieved $200, second place got $100 and third place earned $75, according to Silver.
Celeste Jale, a contestant, and winner of the persuasive speech category in “Equality” for women mentioned how critical is for people to learn about this topic and take action.
“I was really grateful that I got to get this speech to such a large group because most people in the United States think that there is an equality amendment in the constitution for women and there is not,” Jale said. “We need to be aware and we need to be vigilant and take action.”
Silver said she tells her students coming into the competition that they have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
“You should never think of yourself as a loser,” Silver said. “I think in the moments that you don’t win, when you actually learn more about yourself and you learn about the things that you can do, that you need to change.”