University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Presenter of the Year Competition

Congratulations to Sai Vanteru, Grace Scognamiglio, and Trinity Walker - the first, second, and third-place winners of our 2018 Presenter of the Year Competition! 

The annual Presenter of the Year competition occurred on December 1, 2018. The competition was sponsored by the Sam M. Walton College of Business, the Department of Communication, and the University of Arkansas Bookstore. Contestants were Sam M. Walton College of Business students who were also currently enrolled in a Public Speaking course (COMM 1313). Details regarding the competition can be found below.


How do I register for this competition?

Registration is currently closed - details regarding the event, however, can be found on the Handshake archive of past events.

Why are you having this competition?

We have the best students and want to recognize their accomplishments and abilities in as many ways as possible! Plus, who doesn't love a good competition? Beyond that, though, this competition will demonstrate to students both the value of public speaking and how effective public speaking can help communities discover what issues and policies need to be addressed.

Contestants will be expected to deliver a six to eight-minute persuasive speech; mastering persuasive speech-giving will also pay dividends in the future, as speaking to persuade, recommend, or shape a course of action are some of the most common forms of on-the-job communication.

The first 150 students who sign up will be allowed to participate, but others may join the waiting list by contacting the competition administrators. The signup form will open on October 30th, but you are welcome to contact us with questions prior to its opening.

This competition is sponsored by the Department of Communication and the Walton Business Communication Lab, with additional support from the University of Arkansas Bookstore.

Finally, the "Presenter of the Year" competition shows how committed both the Department of Communication and the Sam M. Walton College of Business are to rewarding and recognizing students who take public speaking and effective communication seriously. Finding new, innovative ways for students to strengthen their public speaking is what we think about every single day of the week. Seriously, every single day.

How do I deliver a winning speech?

In order to progress from each round and reach the finals, your speech should:

  • Advocate a solution to a problem concerning people who attend the University of Arkansas and/or live in the City of Fayetteville, Washington County, or Northwest Arkansas in general. Your solution can be a public policy change or a change in individual behavior.
  • Possess action step(s) that can actually be completed - do not advocate a solution that would require federal approval or a sweeping multinational effort to address.
  • Support its claims through clearly, succinctly given evidence (e.g. statistics or testimonials).
  • Teach the audience something as well as engages the audience through effective delivery and mastery of content. All topics should be timely, interesting, and, of course, focused on a local issue.
  • Be delivered extemporaneously; 1-2 white, one-sided 4x6” notecards will be permitted. Contestants must use visual aids – such as a prop, slideshow, or Prezi. Contestants using slides must have a minimum of 5 slides (we recommend not using a title slide); bring your own USB drive the day of the contest with your slides on them. No podium will be provided to speakers.

If you’re really interested in how your speech will be assessed, take a look at the judge’s scorecard.

What will I win?

Aside from a wonderful line on your résumé and the sheer satisfaction of being recognized as such an accomplished public speaker, winners will receive the following prizes:

  • First place: a $400 gift card to the University of Arkansas Bookstore
  • Second place: a wonderful gift basket of Razorbacks merchandise from the University of Arkansas Bookstore ($250 value)
  • Third place: a $100 gift card to the University of Arkansas Bookstore

A special thanks to the University of Arkansas bookstore for providing support for these gifts. Shop there; they deserve your business.

What are the rules?

The speech contest will have 3 rounds: preliminary, semifinal, and finals. Each contestant will receive their preliminary room assignment upon check-in, which will run from 8:45-9:00 am in WCOB 202. A full set of rules and procedures are given below:

  • Short intervals (60 seconds) will occur between speeches to allow the judge to complete their notes.
  • Longer intervals will occur after the preliminary and semifinal rounds to allow judges to create the respective pools for the semifinal and final rounds, respectively.
  • Speeches that significantly come under or overtime will be penalized on a graduated scale.
  • Timers will keep the official record of time of each contestant’s speech; this recording will be provided to counters as they compile scores.
  • Timers will hold up a green sign at six (6) minutes, which will be left up for one (1) minute; timers will then hold up a yellow sign at seven (7) minutes, which will be left up for one (1) minute. At eight minutes, the timer will hold up a red sign; this sign shall be left up until the speech is concluded.
  • Judges will assess each speaker based on his/her vocal delivery, body language, speech structure, speech development, word choice and arrangement, quality of ideas and evidence, and overall speech effectiveness.
  • Contestants must wear professional attire; see “Dress for Success” regarding professional attire.
  • Contestants using a PowerPoint or Prezi must bring a USB to the competition containing their slides.
  • Contestants, by signing up to participate, agree to our standard release terms: I hereby grant the Sam M. Walton College of Business and the Department of Communication for value received and without further consideration or compensation the authority and permission to use (in full or in part), reproduce, copy, exhibit, or distribute the recording taken of me, any recordings made of my voice and/or written extraction of such recordings, which may be reproduced for educational purposes in any medium, whether currently in use or yet to be discovered. Please note that photographs may be taken throughout the competition.

Who is judging the competition?

The first two rounds will be judged by representatives from the Department of Communication and the Walton Business Communication Lab. The final round, however, will be judged by some very special guests:

  • Diana Brown currently serves as the Director of Production at the Walton Arts Center. She has worked to create memorable experiences for audiences in New York City, Los Angeles, and has recently brought her talents to Northwest Arkansas. If you've seen a show at either the Walton Arts Center or the AMP, chances are Ms. Brown has had something to do with it!
  • Dr. Lynn Meade teaches in the Department of Communication, focusing primarily on Public Speaking, Nonverbal Communication, and Persuasion. An accomplished instructor, she has won several teaching awards, and few instructors have been so dedicated and decorated when it comes to student retention, communication skills, and overall teaching excellence.
  • Aidan Smith is a sophomore at the Sam M. Walton College of Business. In addition to being an amazing student, Aidan won last year's Presenter of the Year Competition by delivering a memorable speech on poverty and food insecurity in Northwest Arkansas. He's a hard guy to impress, so bring your best speech!

Our judges are all very busy people and we are very grateful to them giving up part of their Saturday to judge the final round of this competition. Be sure to thank them for their time and their commitment to this competition when you see them!

Can my friends and family attend my speech?

The final round is open to everyone – after all, what’s a competition without an audience! We request that they not be disruptive and respect all speakers. Seriously, invite everyone you know to hear you give your speech.

Are you on social media?

Obviously. Who is not on social media nowadays? The Business Communication Lab is on Facebook and Twitter and the Department of Communication is on Facebook. We also encourage everyone who signs up or plans on attending to tweet, write a story, or post about the event using the hashtags #WaltonSpeaks and #WaltonIsEPIC.

We have one social media rule: be nice. Giving a speech is hard enough without having to deal with trolls. Also, do you really want the entire university community seeing you say that?