The Second Annual Cicero Speech Contest

November 13th, 2014 at 6PM in the James Room (Barnard Hall, 4th floor)

This contest strives to promote a speaking culture at Barnard where speaking becomes a form of intellectual expression and a powerful tool for advocacy; where speaking well is valued, evaluated, and rewarded; where students use opportunities such as this event as platforms to voice issues which matter to them and affect real change; and where women hone and employ their voices for transformation.

There will be two speech categories: Persuasive Advocacy (5 minutes) and Impromptu (3 minutes). See below for descriptions of each speech category and general guidelines.

Judging panels will consist of professors and alumnae. There will be a prize for each category.

To enter the contest, please submit an online Participant Questionnaire at

*Please note that only Barnard students can participate as contestants, but all are welcome to attend the event.


Persuasive Advocacy Speech (5 minutes) Prizes: $100 (1st place), $50 (2nd place)

A speech in this category aims to change an audience's action and behavior, or some policy that the audience can influence. It has a specific call to action, and a specific plan for how to change the status quo (a clear claim with a desired outcome).

Please indicate your tentative topic in the Participant Questionnaire. We will ask for the final topic description one week before the contest.

This category will be judged on the following criteria: who gives the most convincing reasoning for changing the status quo, offers the most cogent arguments, delivers a workable plan for action, and effectively relates the speech to the audience.


Impromptu Speech (3 minutes) Prizes: $50 (1st place), $25 (2nd place)

Students will receive a prompt and have 30 minutes to prepare a speech.

This category will be judged on the following criteria: who approaches the topic in an innovative way and whether the speeches are evocative, persuasive, and/or surprising.



  • No reading while delivering speeches; only bare outlines are allowed.
  • Humor is welcome, but no profanity. Contestants using profanities or otherwise offensive language will be immediately disqualified. Language should be appropriate to the audience.
  • Each category sign-up list operates on a first-come, first-served basis, but there is an unlimited waiting list.