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Vol State prepares for speech contest

Last updated on February 17, 2016

By Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor


Volunteer State Community College will be holding its annual Hal Ramer Oratorical Contest on Wednesday, April 13, at 1 p.m. in the Mattox building, Room 104.

First place winner will receive $100, second place will receive $75, and third place will get $50.

Dr. Melva Black, Instructor of Communication, has chaired the event for the past two years and said that the contest is a collective effort by the professors in the Communication Department.

Black said that the contest fosters a sense of community among students, faculty, administrators, and staff at Vol State.

“The goal is to give students and opportunity to showcase and continue to develop their public speaking skills and award top-ranked contestants for their accomplishments,” said Black.

Jennifer James, Associate Professor of Communication, said that the contest was named for founding Vol State President Dr. Hal Ramer in an effort to recognize the public speaking skills of Vol State students.   

“Students benefit from these types of contests because they reinforce learning objectives, and enhance students’ experience in the study of communication. Plus, who doesn’t want the chance to earn money and fame?” said James.

James said that she generally looks for coherent, organized speeches delivered with confidence and enthusiasm when she has judged in the past.

Sheri Waltz, Assistant Professor of Communication, helps promote publicity for the event and sends reminders for teachers to encourage students to compete.

“It provides an opportunity for Communication students to practice what they are learning in class and gives outlets beyond the classroom for a real life setting,” said Waltz.

The formats presented at the contest have traditionally been persuasive and informative speeches, but the story-telling format was added just last spring.

Waltz, who has been a judge in past competitions, said that it is important to have judges on the panel who are not just Communication teachers.

“Though there are technical things to consider, people outside the public speaking environment can focus more on what the presenter is trying to get across rather than getting hung up on the subtleties,” said Waltz.

Waltz said the competition allows students to hone their ability to communicate in an effective manner, which is not just for lawyers or politicians and implored that employers everywhere are seeking employees with good communication skills.

“From the interview to the board room, employers want someone who will communicate effectively because while you might not always stand up to deliver a speech, you do have to communicate face-to-face with people every day,” said Waltz.

Last spring, the Communication Department established the first Vol State Speech Video Collection.

The three contest winners were invited to participate in an “in-studio” recording of their winning contest speech, which became a part of the video collection. 

“The intent of the video collection is to use it within and outside the institution as a training tool,” said Black.

Students who are a part of the recording are able to earn additional money for their participation.


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