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Ian Maxwell takes first prize in Public Speaking Contest

By Nick Shigo
On April 29, 2014

Sophomore management information systems major, Ian Maxwell, took first prize in the first annual University of Connecticut Communication Society's Public Speaking contest. 

Maxwell's speeches were praised by the judges for his stage presence and ability to hold his audience's attention through the use of nonverbal gestures tone of voice.

Over 400 students and supporters filled the seats to watch the finalists present their speeches, cheer on their friends, and, for some, to earn some extra credit points in their own public speaking classes.

Maxwell and the four other finalists, Aidan Coll, sophomore undecided, Brendan Costello, sophomore political science, economics and finance major, Steven Reilly, freshman marketing major, and Stephanie-Marie Riquier, sophomore marketing major, presented prepared speeches and gave improvised presentations on the topic of the role of communication in education.

Reilly took second place and Costello came in third. 

 They were scored by judges Emily Noonan, on-air talent for the Huskies All-Access sports program, Professor Stephen Stifano, of the communications department, and Representative David Kiner of Connecticut's 59th district. 

Contestants first presented a prepared speech on the role of communication in education, then presented impromptu speeches based on questions and themes given by the judges in subsequent rounds. 

Coll said he spent the last two days preparing himself to present the speech he spend the last few weeks writing.

"I thought I did well on the prepared speech, not as much in the impromptu," Coll said. 

Topics included working in groups on projects, the importance of passion in work, the necessity of storytelling, learning through effective communication, and the making of a "cake" through the many ingredients of life gathered through communication with others. 

According to the judges' criticisms and compliments after the speeches, the contestants were professional, passionate, funny and theatrical when it best suited the speech. 

The judges were impressed by the talent the contestants showed, and their ability to command the stage and attention of the audience.

Stifano praised the competitor's composure in a situation that most people would find stressful.

"Any time that a speaker got into a conversation with the audience was great," Stifano said. "I thought there were a lot of those moments."

Noonan especially praised Reilly's comedic abilities in his speeches, saying that his last impromptu speech on streaming video of classes instead of attending was a great way to end the show. 

According to communications Professor Rory McGloin, the event's master of ceremonies, the finalists were selected from a group of about 20 candidates who submitted video applications via YouTube in early March. 

The finalists were selected because of their dynamic performances and the confidence, creativity and delivery in their submission speeches, McGloin said. 

McGloin plans to have the event grow in the future. He hopes that the event grows in participants and reaches out to UConn alumni for more guest judges. 

Reilly said he will probably compete in next year's event as well.

"I want to win. I want to come back. This is a nice way to be an individual in such a big school," Reilly said. 

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