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Public Relations Student Wins at Public Speaking Competition

Callie Crum, public relations major of Cardington, Ohio, is a student who understands what it means to be determined. Having been an active member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school, she had familiarized herself with all aspects of competitive public speaking, from tone inflection to choreographing hand movements and walking patterns. Upon her arrival to Ohio Northern University, she was not keen to let that interest die.

“I just have a drive to do it,” Crum says, “and I wanted to get back into competing.”

Crum spoke to Dr. Jennifer Walton in the Communication Arts department and together they unearthed the Second Annual Novice/Community College Speech Tournament at Gateway Community and Technical College in Kentucky. After a few weeks of preparation, Crum competed on April 4, 2009. She was able to apply her previous FFA experience and the skills she has learned in ONU’s classrooms to garner first place in the extemporaneous division and second place in the impromptu division.

In the extemporaneous division, participants chose one of three national and international current events. They are then given 30 minutes to prepare a five to seven minute speech on that topic. Crum’s question was, “What, if anything, should the government do to boost employment rates?” Crum cites her favorite aspect of extemporaneous speaking as, “gripping someone’s interest to call that person to action.”

The impromptu division allows participants a total of seven minutes to prepare and speak, where at least three of those minutes should be used for speaking. Topics vary between social, political and economic issues of public interest.

For other students who may be interested in public speaking competitions, Crum highly recommends contacting Walton and start practicing at on-campus events right away, such as the elevator pitches conducted within the James F. Dicke College of Business Administration. Other divisions offered at many speaking competitions include prose, informative, persuasion and poetry.