HBS Students Judge Undergraduate Public Speaking Competition

Four members of the HBS Public Speaking Club braved a very rainy Saturday to serve as judges for Suffolk University’s Fall Tournament.

The tournament was a small competition between forensics (public speaking) teams from Suffolk University, Emerson College and Bridgewater State College. Suffolk University, in Beacon Hill, has a nationally renowned public speaking program. The HBS Public Speaking Club began its affiliation with Suffolk last April when Suffolk’s Director of Forensics, Professor Bruce Wickelgren, served on the distinguished judging panel for the Third Annual HBS Public Speaking Competition. The competition, which offers $1500 in prizes to the best speakers at the Harvard Business School, is scheduled for April 11, 2007 at 4:15pm, and will again attract a distinguished panel of judges including Dr. Wickelgren.

Club President Matt Morgan, along with three RC member-Matt Payne, Edward Baxter, and Yiyang Tao-judged a total of 60 speeches in the four hours they spent on the campus. It was a worthwhile contribution to the community and an opportunity for Harvard Business School to interact with the undergraduates of Suffolk and the other competing schools. In addition, the event provided valuable learning for the HBS club members.

“Observing the speakers and contrasting their style and approach highlighted the things I should be thinking about for my own speaking,” remarked Edward Baxter. Matt Payne noted that the event was “extremely valuable” for him in his efforts to improve as a speaker.

The sole purpose of the club is to help its members improve their speaking abilities which is the reason why the HBS Public Speaking Club conducts regular training sessions for its members. In a comfortable setting, MBA students receive feedback on their speaking from their peers in the context of the content and delivery factors outlined above. Just doing it is the best way to make improvements. For a more in depth analysis of what constitutes great public speaking, the club is expecting to return to Suffolk University’s spring tournament in February.

The club is also hosting an event open to the entire campus on November 29, 2006 at 4:00pm in Burden Auditorium. Joe Girard will be the last in the club’s Outstanding Speaker Series in 2006. This will be our culminating event for the semester. Named The World’s Greatest Salesperson, Girard was featured in the Harvard Business Review and Guinness World Records for selling the most big ticket items “one-at-a-time.” Joe waived his normal speaking fee of $25,000 to come to HBS, and he is a great example of a powerful professional speaker who can energize large audiences. Email the Club’s Operations VP, CJ Jones, at if you have any questions.

November 13, 2006
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