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Student FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
About the 2014 Speech Competition on Contemporary Issues

1.        Who can participate?

a.       Everyone.  All currently enrolled students at Bergen Community College are encouraged to enter the competition – full-time, part-time, in any major or area of concentration. 

b.      If you are enrolled at the College, you are eligible to enter.

2.       Can students who are not eligible for financial aid or scholarships enter the competition?  Can they win the competition? 

a.        Yes.  If you are enrolled at Bergen, you can participate in the Competition.  And if you are named one of the finalists, you can compete in the Awards Round for Best Speaker and will be recognized as one of the winners. 

b.      However, because of Federal regulations that the College must comply with, you will not be eligible to receive a cash prize.  You will receive a Certificate of Recognition, and a letter from the President of the College. 

3.       What are the prizes?  When will they be awarded?

a.       All students who participate will be honored at the Speech Competition Awards Ceremony on April 17th, 2014 and will receive a certificate of recognition and a letter from the President of the College.

b.      The Bergen Community College Foundation is sponsoring a total of $4000 in cash prizes.  The list of prizes is detailed in question # 10.)

c.       To be eligible to receive one of the cash prizes, you have to be eligible for a scholarship (see above).  Only U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents with a permanent resident card (I-551 or I-551C) are eligible to receive cash prizes. 

4.       What if I’ve never taken a Speech Communication course?

a.       You do not have to have taken COM 100 or COM 102 to participate.  The competition is open to all Bergen students.    

b.      There is a textbook on reserve in the library that has information on how to prepare a speech:  Essentials of Human Communication, 4th Custom Edition for Bergen Community College, by Joseph A. DeVito.  Chapters 11, 12, 13 and 14 detail how to prepare a speech to inform and a speech to persuade.   

c.       There is material on the Speech Competition web site on how to prepare a speech, in the tab “Brief Overview of How to Prepare a Speech.”  It has a summary of “Steps in Preparing a Speech” and a worksheet that you can use as you outline the main points of your speech. 

5.       What is the theme of the Speech Competition? 

a.       The theme is “Contemporary Issues.”  You can speak about any topic of significance and relevance to the audience. 

b.      This semester there is an additional focus on the topics of peace, justice and reconciliation, in conjunction with other events and programs on campus sponsored by the Institute for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation. 

c.       Students in the Judith K. Winn School of Honors are encouraged to adapt an honors project and present it at the Competition.

d.      There are many academic projects across many disciplines that would make a good speech, from art and biology to philosophy and political science.  You may be working on an essay or a paper that you could modify into an informative or persuasive speech. 

6.       Is it required that I speak about the theme?   

a.       No.  You may present a 5 to 6 minute informative or persuasive speech on a topic of your choice that you deem significant and worthy of the audience’s attention. 

b.      The theme is meant to guide you to think about topics of appropriate significance. 

7.       How do I sign up?   

a.       To register you need to fill out and sign both the Student Registration Form and the Public Relations Release Form.  You can pick up the both forms at the Communication Department Office, W-225. 

b.      Or you can download the forms from the Speech Competition web site and bring them to the Communication Department Office, W-225.  Both forms have to be on file in order to compete. 

c.       What is the deadline for registering? 
You have to sign up by Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014.

d.      Will I get a confirmation that I’ve registered?
 Yes.  You will receive a confirmation by email from the Assistant Director of the Competition, Dr. Kathleen Williams.    

8.        What’s involved in the competition?

a.        The First Round of the Competition will be held on Thursday, April 10th from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. in the Main Building.

b.      Come to the sign-in desk in the lobby of the Main Building, outside the Public Safety Office, between 12:00 and at 12:15 p.m. to sign in.  You will receive your room assignment, and a ballot sheet. 

c.       The classrooms are clustered in the “L” wing.  There will be 5 or 6 students in each competition room, and there will be 3 judges from the faculty or college administration.

d.      When you arrive at your classroom, fill out your ballot sheet (name, title of speech) and present it to the judge. 

e.      Once all of the speakers and judges are present in a classroom, the competition can begin.  Everyone will be finished by 1:30 p.m., in time for 1:45 p.m. classes. 

f.        Note that use of Power Point and other electronic visual aids is not permitted in the competition. 

g.       Are you required to submit an outline of your speech to the judges? 
No!  Unlike in Speech class, the judges will not collect your outline or notes.

h.      After all speakers have finished, you will be asked to fill out an anonymous survey about your experience participating.  This will help us plan the next competition.

i.         The Director and Assistant Director of the Competition will tally the scores.  The top speakers will be notified and invited to compete in the Final Round the next week.


9.       The Final Round of the Competition:  Thursday, April 17th, 3:00 – 4:45 p.m.,  C-211


a.       The top 6 speakers from the first round will be the finalists in the awards round. 

b.      They will be invited to present their speeches at the Final Round of the Competition one week later, on Thursday, April 17th from 3:00 to 4:45 p.m. in the Main Building, Room

C-211.  Speakers will be asked to sign in between 3:00 and 3:15 p.m.

c.       There will be an audience at this round of competition.  All students who participated in the first round of the competition are invited to attend.   You are encouraged to invite your family, friends and fans.  Faculty members and college administrators will also be present.  We estimate that 75 -80 people will attend the awards round. 

d.      After the students have presented their speeches, there will be a reception while the judges confer to determine the winners. 


10.   The Awards Ceremony


a.       The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony, which will follow immediately after the speeches at 4:45 p.m.  

b.      The Bergen Community College Foundation is sponsoring a total of $4000 in prizes for the Best Speakers. 


                      The prizes for the 6 finalists are:                                         Prize

President’s Award, Best Speaker                                         $1000
President’s Award, Best Speaker, Runner-Up                         750
President’s Award, Best Speaker, Third Place                         500
President’s Award, Best Speaker, Fourth Place                      400
President’s Award, Best Speaker, Fifth Place                          300
President’s Award, Best Speaker, Sixth Place                          200

                      There will be 7 additional prizes: 

President’s Award, Honorable Mention (3 winners)            150
President’s Award, Special Merit (4 winners)                      100

c.       All students who participated in the speech competition will be presented with a certificate of recognition at the Awards Ceremony.  All participants are encouraged to invite their family, friends and fans to the awards ceremony.

Good luck!  We hope you find the experience of participating in the Speech Competition to be intellectually challenging and rewarding.  You can email either one of us if you have additional questions. 

                                                                                Jane Phelps, Director of the Competition,
                                                Kathleen Williams, Assistant Director of the Competition,