MISSOULA – More than 550 students showcased the best of their public speaking skills during the Last Best Speaker Competition hosted by the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Montana.
Participants in the competition, which takes place each semester, include the top informative and persuasive speakers enrolled in Introduction to Public Speaking during fall semester. Students in the preliminary contest have either the best informative or persuasive speech in their respective course section. This fall, 19 semifinalists participated in the preliminary contest.
The six Last Best Speaker finalists included: Travis Hawkins of Spokane, Washington; Shannon O’Hara of Missoula; Sean Rice of Lolo; Kirsten Gano of Big Timber; Makayla Paul of Sand Coulee; and Beau Yamasaki of Missoula. Rice and Hawkins earned the top speaker award in informative and persuasive speaking, respectively. The winners each received $100, and runners-up won $25.
“Participating in this event provides an excellent opportunity to refine both their speeches and speaking abilities for a larger audience,” said Betsy Wackernagel Bach, a professor in UM’s Department of Communication Studies. “And, getting a stipend for doing so doesn’t hurt the experience.”