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Belmont Students Speak their Minds at Speech Competition

A collection of Belmont University’s best new speakers participated in a speech competition on Wednesday, showcasing a wide variety of personally selected topics to inform an audience and panel of judges. 

“Mark Twain once observed, ‘There are only two types of speakers in this world: the nervous, and the liars,’” said Olivia Crimivaroli, a senior Belmont student and the emcee of the contest.  

With topics ranging from the cultural impact of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to the anterior mid-cingulate cortex’s effect on your will to live, this year’s speech contest was full of information usable at your next trivia session.  

The speech contestants were selected from a pool of over 500 COM 1100 classes, resulting in 10 non-advancing semifinalists and the six finalists at the event.  


“The speakers here this evening undoubtably bring nerves, but they also bring with them messages, spending hours practicing and preparing,” said Crimivaroli. 

The inspiration for a speech could come from anywhere. Daniella Flom’s speech about the effects of an herbicide called Agent Orange was inspired by her grandfather’s service in the Vietnam war, while Caroline Wise gave a speech on red purely because it’s her favorite color and wanted to do more research. 

“I think that my topic is very current and is definitely something that has interested me for a long time,” said Emma Bowman, her speech entitled “The Rise of Makeup”. “People wear makeup and often times don’t even understand why, making that beauty standard really subconscious. I think that’s what drew me to the topic.”  

Dylan Hilburn’s inspiration for “Anterior Mid-Cingulate Cortex Effects on Will Power & the Desire to Live” came from one of his favorite podcasts. 

“Andrew Huberman is my favorite podcaster and I thought that I’d do one over his podcast about willpower,” said Hilburn. “After I did my research, my professor gave me a really good structure to go off of.”  

The common theme among these speakers is the importance of preparation. Clearly emphasized by all of the speakers was the amount of effort and preparation they put into their speeches.  

“The thing that really helped me a lot was practicing the speech over and over and over,” said Hilburn. “In the past week, I’ve probably practiced my speech about thirty times. I feel good about my speech tonight because I prepared the most that I possibly could, and I can’t control anything else.”  

Rehearsing with a live audience can be beneficial to preparing a speech, Wise said. 

“Having my sister who won the contest last spring listen to me go over it was helpful, I practiced for her a ton. She was kind of like my personal coach,” said Wise, referring to her sister Katherine Wise who won the same speech competition in 2023.  

At the end of the night, Dylan Hilburn was given first place in this year’s speech competition, earning him a $100 gift card to the Bruin Shop and an award to put on his résumé.  

This article was written by Cadence Moore

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