Speaking of competition…

More than 30 hopeful SVSU students performed Friday, Nov. 7, for the chance to win cash prizes and gain experience in persuasive public speaking at the 25th annual Sims Public Speaking Competition.

The university wide public speaking competition began in 1981 as a student-run competition. The event was later sponsored by the Department of Communication with an endowment from Larry and Linda Sims.

The Valley Vanguard

Vanguard photo | Tyler Bradley

Danielle Schoney , who spoke about the importance of theater in education, was awarded second place at the Sims Public Speaking Contest on Nov. 7. She was joined in competition by 32 other students.

The competition continues to grow in attendance and recognition across campus, this year drawing in 33 competitors and dozens of audience members.

Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication, and David Schneider, professor of communication, have organized the competition for the last 15 years.

“Our responsibilities are to schedule rooms for competitors to speak in, secure judges, coordinate with the department and to help run the day-to-day organization,” Pierce said.

Pierce believes  a number of factors must be well-developed  to deliver a winning speech.

“The speeches that have won in the past were well-organized, well-researched and socially significant. Additionally, charismatic delivery is highly valued,” she said.

Competitors’ speeches ranged from between five and eight minutes, representing a wide variety of topics. They were delivered in two rounds during the afternoon, one at noon and the other at 1:30 p.m. Finalists were then invited to speak in the final round at 4 p.m.

First place was awarded to Megan Hillman, social work and communication senior, for her “Green is the New Black: Green Burials.” This year’s competition marked Hillman’s third year as a Sims finalist, but her first winning the competition.

Hillman expressed her appreciation for pulling out a victory and devotion for public speaking.

“It feels incredible to win for several reasons,” she said. “I have dreams of being a motivational speaker someday, so to be recognized and honored in the competition was so amazing – especially since there was such good competition this year.”

Hillman used the competition to persuade audiences about the benefits of a green burial, an interment process that allows the body to naturally recycle over time, rather than decomposing.

Hillman said her appreciation for the process grew naturally from her research on the topic.

“As morbid as it is, this really is something everyone will have to deal with at some point, so I felt like (green burials) would be a good topic to choose,” she said. “As I found out from the competition, pretty much everyone I talked to said they really did like the idea of a green burial, and they were happy I made them aware of the option.”

Second place went to Danielle Schoeny’s “Importance of Theatre in Education” and third place went to Cara Deschermeier’s “Nut Allergies on Airlines.”

Other finalists included Faith Chapman’s “Treatment of Waiters/Waitresses,” Natalie Currie’s “Artificial Turf Causes Cancer in Athletes” and Samantha Jackson’s “Soapbox for Sunrise Sleepers.”

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