Annual Otis Young Motivational Speak-Off


This annual event takes place the first Saturday of May and provides students with the opportunity to develop their public speaking skills in a way that far exceeds what can be accomplished in a classroom setting. To prepare for this event, students participate in an Honors course where they are engaged in developing, revising and rehearsing an original 5-7 minute motivational speech. The contest allows for students to test their preparation and developed skills in front of an audience in a theatre setting.


  • Students who have taken or are enrolled in SPC 142 Public Speaking classes throughout the academic year of the contest are eligible to compete.
  • All participants must audition and, if accepted, enroll in the SPC 172 Honors: Competitive Speaking class the semester of the contest.
  • An original, 5 to 7 minute motivational speech must be created by the student for use in the Honors class and the contest.


A number of judges are called upon to judge this event. This group represents college faculty, staff and administrators; students; community representatives; outside College/University representatives; and members of the communication and leadership organization, Toastmasters International. In addition to scoring participants in a number of categories outlined below, each judge is asked to provide specific feedback to students outlining areas of strength and opportunities for improvements.

Criteria include:

  • Speech Content: audience appropriate, topic appropriate, etc.
  • Word Usage: grammar, visual imagery, etc.
  • Vocal Variety: articulation, pace, enthusiasm, etc.
  • Body Language: gestures, use of stage space, eye contact, etc.
  • Timing: while judges do not concern themselves with timing, students' time must reach at least 4 minutes and 30 seconds and be no longer than 7 minutes and 30 seconds. Students who do not speak within this timing range are disqualified.

SPC 172 - Honors Competitive Speaking

This 1 credit course is a requirement for those competing in the MCC Annual Otis Young Motivational Speak-off. Students meet beginning mid-March to develop the content, organization and delivery of their contest speech. Although students will be competing, this class is a collaborative effort where each student helps the others develop the best speech and delivery possible. In the end, everyone is a "winner" of the contest since each speech is made up of suggestions and support from each student in the class.

  • The first couple of classes are focused on developing ideas for a motivational speech and clarifying contest day expectations.
  • Most of the classes are rehearsal days, mainly in the theatre, to prepare students for the event.
  • The last class is a debriefing session, including discussions about whether the actual contest met students' expectations, how prepared the Honors class made them feel and suggestions for future changes to the course and/or contest.