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MLK Oratorical Contest Guidelines (2016-17)

*Please note that the Evanston and Chicago campus contests have been combined. The Contest will take place on Friday, January 20th at noon in Rubloff 150, Aspen Hall (375 E Chicago Ave) on the Chicago campus. The Evanston event has been canceled.*

Evanston Campus

The MLK Commemoration Committee invites submissions for the 2016-17 student oratorical contest! All Evanston campus students (undergraduate, graduate and professional) are encouraged to submit a 3-5 minute video speech in response to the above prompt. One undergraduate and one graduate/professional student will be selected as winners.

Contest flyer


Prizes include



To participate in the Competition, you MUST email a YouTube video link of your oration to a with the subject line: MLK ORATORICAL CONTEST SUBMISSION. Submissions are due on January 9th, 2017. For questions or assistance with your YouTube video, contact


The selection of the winners will be done by a panel of 3 judges during the Oral Advocacy Competition event on January 19th, 2017. The selection by the panel is final.

Structure of the Competition

The Competition will be held in two stages: Video Competition and Oral Advocacy Competition.

Video Guidelines

General Competition Rules

Timing: The oral presentation must be a minimum of three minutes and a maximum of five minutes. An oral presentation outside of this timeframe will result in points being deducted.


Assessment of Oral Presentations

Oral presentations will be evaluated according to six categories:



Quality Well prepared arguments that are clear and makes the presentation interesting.
Content The body of the presentation is complete: it includes all information needed to persuade listeners of the validity of the argument. This argument and its claims are well supported by the appropriate data.
Persuasiveness The presenter speaks clearly, loudly, and at an effective pace and advocates for the presenter's position; and the presenter speaks with the naturalness that enables the presenter to vary tone, pitch, and emphasis and to use their voice to emphasize important language and ideas. Verbal distractions - filler sounds and words (“ums,” “uhs,” “okays” and “you knows”) are minimal or non-existent.
Style Good eye contact enables the presenter to connect with the audience. Gestures are natural, appropriate, and confident and underscore the presenter's message. Presenter keeps to the time limit and spends appropriate amounts of time on individual arguments. Each presentation must be a minimum of three minutes and a maximum of five minutes. A presentation outside of this timeframe is required to have points being deducted.


The presentation is structured to aid the listener’s retention: it provides a brief overview of what will be covered in the introduction; foreshadows what’s coming next; uses bridging between chunks of the talk; uses backtracking to review what's been covered; and closes by summarizing the main points.
Creativity Uses unusual phrases, quotes or analogies to make arguments more persuasive.

The maximum number of points each competitor may receive per category is five points for a maximum total of thirty points for the entire oral presentation.


The final contest will be judged by a minimum of three judges. Judges will render their final decisions independently of one another and without consulting with other individuals. The decision of the judges as certified by the tabulators is final.


Tabulators will be responsible for reviewing the judges’ score cards to be certain they are fully tabulated and signed before being submitted for final tabulation. The scorecards will not be revealed to anyone at the site of the contest.