Hinckley Institute Speech Contest: Two Minutes to Win It

(Photo Courtesy of the Hinckley Institute of Politics)

(Photo Courtesy of the Hinckley Institute of Politics)

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(Photo Courtesy of the Hinckley Institute of Politics)

(Photo Courtesy of the Hinckley Institute of Politics)

In just two minutes you could win $5,000.

The Hinckley Institute of Politics and ASUU are sponsoring HIP Talks, a university-wide speech contest in which students can talk about anything they want, as long as they keep it within the two-minute time frame. Any U student can participate for a chance to win the $5,000 grand prize or one of the $1,000 prizes in five categories: humorous, compelling, informative, original and audience favorite.

Molly Wheeler, administrative coordinator for the Hinckley Institute, said the program wants to help students improve their public speaking skills, which she said is one of the best ways to foster community engagement in politics.

“We’ve found in our experiences and the students we’ve interacted with that a lot of them are not comfortable speaking out in a committee meeting or something like that,” she said. “We really wanted to create some sort of fun environment that students could see other students speaking and then take a crack at it themselves.”

Students have to participate in at least one of the three preliminary rounds — held March 30, April 6 and April 8 — to be eligible to move on to the final round but can register for as many primaries as it takes to qualify. Registration for the preliminaries is free online at hinckley.utah.edu/hip-talks.

During the preliminaries, those registered will go first, but the floor will open afterwards to unregistered participants. Wheeler recommends coming with a prepared speech, but people are “more than welcome to wing it.”

Anna Solomon, a graduate student in public administration and a global programming assistant for the Hinckley Institute, is part of the team working to promote the event.

“When I was an undergraduate student I wish that this would have been around,” she said. “As I’ve gone through on to my master’s degree, I’ve realized how important it is to be able to present yourself publicly and to do it in an effective, fast manner.”

Solomon hopes there are both funny speeches and talks on current events.

“I hope people talk about anything and everything that they’re passionate about,” she said. “I think those make the best speeches.”

The prize money comes from the Wayne Owens Foundation in honor of the oratory skills of former Utah Rep. Wayne Owens. The award was divided into different categories to give students more freedom to choose their topics, Wheeler said.

“It’s kind of apples to oranges when comparing speeches,” she said. “There could be two phenomenal speeches where one makes you cry because it’s such a heart-wrenching story and one that’s just silly and one that’s just very fact-based.”

The final is Wednesday, April 15 in the Union Ballroom at 5 p.m.

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