Hinckley Speech Contest Wows Crowd

(Photo by Chris Samuels)

(Photo by Chris Samuels)

By Kylee Ehmann

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(Photo by Chris Samuels)

(Photo by Chris Samuels)

Public speaking is America’s number one fear, according to The Washington Post.

But Wednesday night, 31 contestants in the Hinckley Institute of Politics’ HIP Talks event conquered that fear for a chance to win the $5,000 grand prize. The students delivered two-minute speeches on any topic of their choosing, ranging from rape culture and police brutality to funny stereotypes Americans have about Australians.

Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute, was excited about the event.

“We just really felt we needed a different way to engage students,” he said. “Public speaking has become such an important skill to students, and the only way to get good at it is to practice.”

The free event drew more than 120 people to the Union Ballroom.

Nora Abu Dan won $1,000 for the most informative speech — one of five runner-up categories. She said because she had never entered a speech competition before that she was shocked to win.

“Even if I hadn’t won, just to see that there is this cloud of people who heard what I was saying, not just my words, but my meaning, that would have been enough,” she said.

Emily Glende, who won the grand prize of $5,000 was also surprised. She plans to use the prize money to help fund her internship to Ghana this summer.

Matt Katzenbach, program director of entrepreneurship, attended the event after hearing his students talk about it.

“All of [the speeches] have been very powerful and inspirational,” Katzenbach said. “There’s so much that we can glean from hearing about their experience in such a short and concise way.”

That was the idea Doug Owens, one of the judges, had as well. Quoting his late father, former Utah Rep. Wayne Owens, founder of the organization that donated the prize money for the speeches, he said, “You can’t always get an audience to like a great speech. But you can get them to like a short one.”

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SPEECH WINNERS

Best Original: Devin Price performed a slam poetry piece talking about “dead beat” fathers.

Humorous: Rachael Palmer spoke about how there are infuriatingly smaller pockets in women’s clothing.

Most Compelling: Chaz Allen talked about the need for the American public to grow closer to the military.

Informative: Nora Abu Dan discussed how students should stay informed with world events through social media.

Audience Favorite: Sabrina Abdalla talked about how the media influences public image on minorities in the U.S.

Grand Prize: Emily Glende spoke about the difficulties and limitations of being an educator.