by willrobertbarshop

On Tuesday, 13 November the University’s COM123 (Public Speaking) classes held this semester’s Speak-Off, a competition between students testing their ability to deliver a speech to an audience. I was one of the six contestants to make it to the final round.


The rules were simple: deliver an informative speech on the topic of your choosing. Each lab section chose one of their own to compete in a preliminary round, and the TA’s judged which six would deliver their speeches in Morgan auditorium the next week. Promised extra credit in the class for attending the event, many COM123 students filled the seats in the audience.

The freedom to choose any topic we could imagine created a colorful variety of speeches. While I spent my time talking about how Spelling Bees have been portrayed in pop culture, another speaker, Haas Byrd, discussed this year’s NFL referee lockout.

One girl, Leah Juliano, took the stage to walk us through the life of Etta James, singing bits of the artist’s songs along the way. Christina Zabala took us behind the scenes of the hit sitcom, FRIENDS.


Left: Juliano, Right: Zabala

The judges, three members of the College of Communication faculty, tallied their scores while a member of the forensics team performed a dramatic but comedic piece of prose. A few minutes later they announced that I was the winner.

While the challenge to go out on a stage in front of hundreds of my peers and simply talk was more than a little nerve-wracking (moments before I went on I actually fell down a flight of stairs backstage), I was ecstatic to be honored as the best speaker in the competition.