Public Speaking Semifinalists Speak on “What Makes Communication Difficult?"

Seventeen Lawrentians competed in the Woodrow Wilson Speaking Competition in the Ambrecht Room this past Thursday from 6:30 to 8:00 PM.

Seventeen Lawrentians competed in the Woodrow Wilson Speaking Competition in the Ambrecht Room this past Thursday from 6:30 to 8:00 PM.

Contestants delivered their speeches in front of faculty judges History Master David Figueroa-Ortiz P ’18 and Chair of the Language Department Devondra McMillan. Chair of the English Department Miranda Christoffersen P’14 ’18 organizes the competition.

“The judges assess the students’ ability to hold the judges’ attention for three to five minutes in a natural and yet rehearsed way,” Christoffersen said.

The competitors—Anika Bagaria ’20, Danica Bajaj ’21, Sindhu Billakanti ’21, Makayla Boxley ’20, Mykael Canady ’20, Elyssa Chou ’20, Rebecca Chou ’22, Kajal Dongre ’22, Ashley Duraiswamy ’20, Jax Floyd ’20, Ethan Johnson ’19, Deven Kinney ’20, Tiffany Lin ’20, Haaris Mian ’19, Liana Raguso ’20, Kylan Tatum ’21, and Ivy Zhang ’19—presented their speeches on the prompt “What makes communication difficult?”

Of the prompt, Christofferson said, “The topic is general enough where the audience doesn't have to be an expert.”

The first round of the competition took place in the students’ English classes; each class elected one student to advance to the quarter final round. Nominees then presented a speech on their topic of choice, and judges chose the students advancing to the semifinals.

Christofferson emphasized the importance of the event and its similarity to TEDx Talks. “[Public speaking] is a skill that is used everyday […] Without the slides and occasional props, TEDx Talks [are] pretty much what the competition encourages.”

“[The Woodrow Wilson Competition] is one of the few places where the students can share their ideas with the entire student body,” Elyssa Chou said.

Echoing Chou, Bajaj said, “[The competition] is similar to acting [...] It’s all about projecting your voice and bringing emotion with what you’re saying.”

Out of the 17 semifinalists, five will be chosen to deliver a speech at school meeting for the final round.