2022 speaking competitors on stage in Johnson Chapel
2022 Speaking Competition Winners (left to right): Gilbert Prize (3rd Place) winner Ryan Kyle ’23; Kellog Prize (2nd place) winner Mia Griffen ’23; Gilbert Prize (1st place) winner Kobe Thompson ’24. Photo by Maria Stenzel.

The annual College Speaking Competition is open to students from all class years. Participants present 5–7-minute speeches based on the year’s chosen theme, competing for three prizes. See the winners and watch videos of past Speaking Competitions:

2022 Speaking Competition: “Progress”

2021 Speaking Competition: “Freedom”

2020 Speaking Competition: “Justice”

2019 Speaking Competition: “Truth”

The Prizes

The Bancroft Prize

Established by Frederic Bancroft of the Class of 1882, the Bancroft Prize is awarded to a senior who produces the best oration. Both composition and delivery are considered.

The Gilbert Prize

Established by William O. Gilbert of the class of 1890, The Gilbert Prize is awarded to a member of the junior class who produces the best oration. Both composition and delivery are considered in making the award.

The Kellogg Prizes

The Kellogg Prize was established by Rufus B. Kellogg of the Class of 1858, and consist of two prizes which are awarded to members of the sophomore or freshman classes for excellence in declamation.


Competitors were evaluated on the following components:

Content and Organization

  • Topic and specific focus were appropriate for the audience (Amherst community).
  • Clear organization was followed consistently throughout the speech.
  • Speech consistently used evidence that was appropriate for the topic (e.g., narrative, statistics) and was cited as appropriate.
  • Language use was appropriate (e.g., avoided jargon) and suited to the occasion.
  • Logical connections were clearly made between ideas within the speech.


  • Speaker’s use of vocal qualities (volume, pitch, emphasis) enhanced the presentation.
  • Nonverbal behaviors (gestures and eye contact) enhanced the presentation.
  • Speaker was fluent (e.g., avoided fillers such as “um”) and conversational.

Overall Impression

  • The speaker was engaging throughout the presentation.
  • The overall presentation was consistently persuasive.