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SC&I’s 2020 First Virtual Public Speaking Contest a Success
Because of COVID-19, SC&I’s annual public speaking contest was held virtually for the first time in the contest’s history. This year’s theme was “Stand Up, Speak Out! Be Bold. Be Heard.”
SC&I’s 2020 Public Speaking Contest Held Virtually Due to COVID -19

The coronavirus pandemic did not stop the students in SC&I’s public speaking class from speaking out during the class’ annual public speaking contest. Held on April 27, 2020, the instructors, students, and judges adapted by competing virtually instead of face to face, due to COVID-19. This year’s theme was “Stand Up, Speak Out! Be Bold. Be Heard.”

Not only did the pandemic not silence SC&I’s public speaking class’ students, but the number of participants was up to 59 (93 students registered). In 2019 the contest had its highest number of participants since 2013 at 48, so this was a significant jump and a testament to the student’s enthusiasm, dedication, and work ethic.

Participants, who are students majoring in a variety of disciplines across Rutgers, enter the contest as a means to demonstrate what they have learned in SC&I’s Public Speaking Course (380).

The event this year was co-coordinated by Teaching Instructor for Communication and Undergraduate Internship Coordinator Erin Christie, and Public Speaking Course Coordinator and Assistant Teaching Professor of Communication Nikolaos Linardopoulos.

The process they used to run the contest virtually, Christie said, was, “each student submitted a recorded presentation of between 5-7 minutes in length and either informative or persuasive in nature. Each submission was judged by two current instructors of 380.” To make it work, they set-up a Canvas course shell and then added students as they registered for the competition. Then, they encouraged the students to use Panopto, but allowed them to use whatever type of technology the students wanted to in order to record and upload their presentations to the Canvas site. This allowed students access to upload and judges access to view and submit scores for presentations. Winners were then announced via the Canvas site as well. 

Describing this year’s presentations, Christie said, “All were interesting, considering all submissions had to be prerecorded at home and uploaded. This mediated presentation is an extension of one aspect of our public speaking course which encourages students to learn how to present and communicate using technology in such a way that still captivates their audience.”

During the contest, students first faced two preliminary rounds, where they each presented their speech twice to two different sets of judging panels and competitors. Students who made the cut in those rounds then moved on to the final round.

Speakers were judged on three elements: content, delivery and effectiveness, and were required to include at least two oral citations in their presentations.

The winners of the final round of the contest, and their prizes are:

First Place: Zacharias Lee, $800 (Instructor: Part-Time Instructor Alison Edgley

Second Place: Andrew Oana, $500 (Instructor: Part-Time Lecturer Tara Jakubik)

Third Place: Tyler Bartlett, $300 (Instructor: Part-Time Faculty Kathryn Nogueira)

Fourth Place: William Nguyen, $250 (Instructor: Part-Time Lecturer Michael Goldberg)

Fifth Place: Haya Abdel Jabbar, $150 (Instructor: Part-Time Lecturer Tatiana Rodriguez)

This year’s judges for the final round were Chair of the Communication Department and Professor Craig Scott and Part time Lecturer and Director of the Rutgers Center for Organizational Leadership Ralph Gigliotti Ph.D. ’17, along with current undergraduate and first place winner of last year’ public speaking competition, Evan Mangone. Christie said all of the judges expressed how impressed they were with the final round submissions.

The Public Speaking Contest was co-sponsored by the RPSO (Rutgers Public Speaking Organization), of which Christie is the faculty advisor. 

“It was so fantastic to see such support for this event,” Christie said, “regardless of the change from face-to-face to virtual. Everyone, from judges to students, were excited to see our event conducted in such a unique way!”



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