Joan Donovan Speech Contest | St. Lawrence University Performance and Communication Arts

Joan Donovan Speech Contest

Announcing the 2017 Joan Donovan Speech contest for Seniors. manuscripts are due by 4:30 pm on Friday, April 28th. More details below.

Joan Donovan Speech Contest

Winner Speaks at Commencement

Cash Prizes for Top Three Speeches:  1st place, $500; 2nd place, $300; 3rd place, $150

Contestants must be eligible to and planning on marching at commencement.

Speeches will be judged on a variety of criteria, including:

  • adherence to time limits (maximum of 7 minutes);
  • originality and significance of the ideas expressed; 
  • the extent to which the speaker creatively transcends the clichés associated with the commencement speech genre while nevertheless crafting a speech that is appropriate for the occasion; and
  • the extent to which delivery enhances the ideas expressed (finalists only).

While speakers are free to explore the entire range of SLU experiences, they should not ignore academic experiences and intellectual growth.   These aspects might be addressed in any one of a number of ways, including:

  • by directly reflecting on what you or your classmates have learned;
  • by incorporating or focusing on a concept, idea, or lesson learned during the previous four years;
  • by crafting a speech whose style, form, and/or eloquence clearly bears witness to your learning over the past four years.

Participants must email manuscripts of their speeches to Kirk Fuoss ( by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28.  No exceptions!

Finalists will be notified on Wednesday, May 3 and will deliver their speeches before a panel of judges on Monday, May 8 or Tuesday, May 9, depending on availability of the finalists and the panel of judges.