Since the earliest days of the College, students have been asked to develop their ability to communicate eloquently in a variety of contexts. Today, the Public Speaking Competition provides an opportunity for students to both hone and demonstrate those abilities while competing for more than $18,000 in prizes.


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Public Speaking Prizes

The Public Speaking Competition is comprised of three endowed prizes. All currently enrolled Hamilton students are eligible for at least one prize and may compete for multiple prizes.

The McKinney Prize is offered to one student in each class year for a persuasive speech. Typically, students compete within their own class year, though sometimes class years are combined if there is a limited pool of competitors.

The Clark Prize is limited to seniors and requires students to respond to a specific prompt in a persuasive speech.

2024's prompt:

Shakespeare’s Juliet mused “What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Often entities (e.g., companies, organizations) and individuals change names; for example, Twitter was rebranded as X. For this year’s Clark Prize, answer Juliet’s question: What’s in a name?

The Warren E. Wright Prize is limited to students who have taken a public speaking course; currently, Genres of Oral Communication qualifies. Students present an informative speech on the topic of their choosing and are challenged to respond to questions posed at the end of their speeches.

Speeches for each prize should be between 6 and 8 minutes. Speeches should be planned and rehearsed. Speakers may not use props, PowerPoint, or other aids, including in the form of clothing.


Office / Department Name

Oral Communication Center

Contact Name

Amy Gaffney

Oral Communication Center Director

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