NEW! Debate Barnard's Future
April 13th, 2017 | 8-10 PM| Ella Weed Room

Speaking Fellows will host a public, one-day debate tournament on April 13th. The proposition will be: Barnard's next president should have experience in the corporate world. Sign-up here to participate! Once you sign-up, you will work with a team of ~3 other students to craft an argument agreeing or disagreeing with this proposition. You will have the chance to work with Speaking Fellows before the event, so no debate experience is necessary.

Debate Bootcamp | Sunday, March 26th | 10 AM - 1 PM

You may also sign up for the Debate Bootcamp this Sunday from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM on our online scheduler. In this three-hour, intensive session, you can hone your speaking and argumentation skills to prepare for the debate event on April 13th, or for any other future debate experiences. 


The Fourth Annual Cicero Speech Contest

October 27th, 2016 | 6PM | Sulzberger Parlor, 3rd floor Barnard Hall

The Cicero Speech Contest strives to promote a speaking culture at Barnard where speaking is an intellectual expression and powerful tool for advocacy; where speaking well is valued, evaluated, and rewarded; where students use opportunities such as this event to voice issues which matter to them and affect real change; and where Barnard students hone and employ their voices for transformation.

There will be two speech categories: Persuasive Advocacy (5 minutes) and Impromptu (3 minutes). Judging panels will comprise distinguished faculty, deans, and alumnae. There will be a small prize for each category.

To sign up, please fill out this form.

* Please note only Barnard students can participate as contestants. 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).

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. (Last year's prompt was a quote by Toni Morrison: "Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.")

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. (Last year we had eight contestants in the advocacy category and ten in the impromptu category with sizable wait lists.)