Students put impromptu skills to test at speech competition

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A speech competition where students had two minutes to prepare and approximately four minutes to speak brought excitement and anxiety to contestants.

A total of 22 students put their impromptu skills to the test Thursday from 4-7:30 p.m. in the Zion room of the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons at the Mike and Rhonda Tommer Impromptu Speech Competition. Students competed to win a piece of the $1,500 in scholarships donated by the Tommer family. 

Riley Anderton, a freshman general studies major from Roy, took first place in the competition and won $700. 

“You can’t really prepare for these types of things,” Anderton said. “It’s nerve-wracking coming in and giving impromptu speeches, but I felt good about my final speech and I was very excited about the outcome.”

The event occurs every year with eight judges, two rounds and a final top three round. Speeches were pulled from a bowl with quotes, comments and statements of all types. Examples included, “many hands make light work,” or a quote by Socrates: “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” The students were then expected to expound on that thought into a speech that had a clear thesis, is applicable, and all with good posture. 

Mike and Rhonda Tommer have sponsored the competition for two years. They said they feel this is their way of paying respect and gratitude back to DSU for supporting their kids in school. Rhonda Tommer said she loves the students’ enthusiasm coming into the competition and was very impressed with the students’ speeches.

Joseph Mitchell, a sophomore communications major from St. George, attended the event last year. 

Mitchell, also the debate coach at Dixie High School said “It brings me back to the good days when I was in debate in high school.” 

Mitchell said he enjoys the adrenaline and excitement that comes from drawing a quote or a comment and expounding to deeper thought on what it means.

To study for the speech competition, Mitchell said he memorized and studied quotes and stories from Dr. Seuss to Abraham Lincoln.

“Sometimes you get the quote and think, ‘What the crap does this mean?’ Mitchell said. “You can’t really prepare for this; it’s just how you use your words.”

Mitchell was not able to place this year but he said he continues to improve, learn and have fun with debate and impromptu speeches.

Following Anderton were John Glavey, a sophomore history major from Chicago for second place, and Krissia Beatty, a senior communication major from St. George, and Austin Osborne, a junior media studies major from Anchorage Alaska, who were tied for third place.