Golden tongues put to the test

Erskine-Smith wins first place in public speaking competition

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, centre, won the Andrina McCulloch Public Speaking Competition.
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, centre, won the Andrina McCulloch Public Speaking Competition.
Credit: 
Wonjai Park

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith didn’t win a seat on Kingston’s municipal council, but said his experience during the election sparked his interest in the 66th Andrina McCulloch Public Speaking Competition.

His speech about student apathy in municipal affairs was good enough for first prize and $1,095.

On Wednesday night, seven finalists performed a compulsory speech on discrimination and tolerance, and one original speech—prepared or impromptu.

The finalists were chosen from an original group of 25 students by a panel of judges, including University archivist Paul Banfield, JDUC director Bob Burge and drama professor Judith Fisher. The judges evaluated the competitors based on delivery, speaking manner, and audience response. For the original component, they also assessed content, originality and the speech’s organization. First runner-up and a prize of $600 were awarded to Michael Kalimin, ArtSci ’07, whose original speech challenged the notion that while it is acceptable for women to play men in theatrical performances, it is seen as week or emasculating for men to play women.

Second runner-up and $400 were awarded to Brian Kuchar, ArtSci ’07, the only contestant to present an impromptu speech. Kuchar based his speech on a quote from journalist Doug Floyd: “You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note.” The annual speech competition was established by Andrew McCulloch, a Queen’s alum, in honour of his daughter, Andrina McCulloch. The competition, which began in 1941, is open to all Queen’s students and is designed to promote and encourage public speaking.

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