Six student speakers will have a chance to earn a cash prize and a collegiate award during the semi-annual Student Speakers’ Showcase at 6:45 p.m. Thursday in the Technology Building at Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
Run and judged by a committee of full-time faculty at the college, SLCC has conducted a showcase every spring and fall semester for over a decade. Thursday’s six speakers presented are enrolled in the school’s Principles of Public Speaking course (COMM 1020) and have been selected by their professor and fellow students as the best in their class.
Ashley Givens, interim associate dean for the Division of Communication and Performing Arts and a Student Speakers’ Showcase committee member, said the criteria for choosing these students is similar to what the judges use to determine the winner of the event.
“The judges themselves have a specific criteria list, with eight pieces of criteria you’re judged on,” Givens said. “Your organization, delivery, resources, overall topic … that’s just part of how [the grading] works.”
The showcase sees a variety of speech topics each semester. The presented speeches, Givens said, are often persuasive or informative in nature, resulting in many topics based on national and local social issues. However, this does not mean that the speeches are all pomp. Givens recalled that in a recent showcase, one of the finalist’s presentations centered on the Korean-Pop band BTS.
“Every semester [the topics] are different,” Givens said. “From big issues to what interests students, there’s a huge variety.”
Participants do not write speeches specifically for the showcase. The presentations are only allowed if they were originally speech assignments within a COMM 1020 course. Sarah Billington, communication department coordinator and host of the upcoming showcase, said the exclusivity is partly to promote the work of students within the communications program.
“Communications studies doesn’t have as much to ‘show off,’ if you will,” Billington said. “It’s not as easy to showcase students’ work from [communication] classes.”
She compared this to other SLCC programs, like the Student Art Showcase and The Globe, the college’s student newspaper. Where future visual artists and journalists have an avenue to present their work, communication majors have few outlets for their college work.
This has not dissuaded the department of communication from considering expanding the showcase across campuses and departments, though.
“One of the reasons we’ve been having conversations about involving more students … is because we were trying to reach outside of the communication department,” Billington said. “We just never figured out the logistics of how something like that would work.”
“It’s a whole other ball game to try to extend something like that out to all of the campuses,” she continued. “We just haven’t taken it to that level yet.”
Both Billington and Givens are hopeful that the Student Speakers’ Showcase will eventually grow and involve other departments at SLCC. Already, the showcase has started to coordinate with students from other majors. Students from the film and TV programs, for example, record the event each semester, using professional equipment provided by the college.
Also overseeing the showcase’s marketing this semester, Billington said she coordinated with graphic design and photography students to create the event’s posters and other promotional materials.
Though further schoolwide involvement is still in the works, schoolwide interest rarely wavers. With the exception of last semester, Givens said the auditorium where the event is held often reaches its maximum capacity of 300.
“We usually have a great turnout, hopefully we will this semester, too,” Givens said. “If you’re interested in the communication program … hanging out, meeting people, seeing our speeches, seeing what we do are all great reasons [to attend].”
For students who need an extra incentive, Billington noted that many communications instructors provide extra credit to students who attend the showcase. She added that overall, students not taking a public speaking class may still find the event interesting.
“It’s a great opportunity for other students to see student speakers talking on topics that maybe they’re passionate about, or even have an opposing viewpoint,” Billington said. “That opens that area up for discussion … it could potentially really stretch you as a student and as a person.”