By Jessica Greschner, Marketing/Layout Editor


On March 1, 2013, UBC students of all faculties gathered at the Empire Landmark Hotel to watch UBC’s largest speaking competition. Overall, the event commenced seamlessly, and the sold-out audience, the competitors, and the judges thoroughly enjoyed the SpeakOut 2013 experience.


SpeakOut 2013 involved six competitors who had qualified for the event through different auditions throughout the year. Competitors included Emily Chen, Kaitlyn Jung, Jenson Leung, Arash Narchi, and Naina Varshney. Emily and Kaitlyn are second-year students in science and commerce, respectively. Jenson is a fourth-year political science major. Arash is a third-year student studying cognitive systems, and Naina – also a third year – is a commerce student majoring in marketing and contemplating another major. Judges for the event included CTV Morning Live co-host Norma Reid, CLC presentation coach Pooja Misra, and SpeakOut 2012 winner Chris Laporte.


The evening began with an introduction from the BizzComm executives followed by an address from guest speaker and SpeakOut 2013 judge Norma Reid. Norma inspired the audience with her life story. Expanding on her humble upbringings in rural Saskatchewan, experiences as a competitive figure skater, and passion for live TV, Norma explained how she drew lessons from various stages in her life. Her message to the audience was that the key to success is hard work and an unwillingness to say no.


Next came the first round of competition: competitors were required to give an eight-minute prepared speech on the topic of “what’s your story?” Speeches from all competitors were captivating. Emily described the different things she “wanted to be when she grew up.” Kaitlyn spoke about “potty peace” – a concept that emphasizes appreciating the peace in the little things in life. Jenson explained his quest to become a lawyer, adding that no goal is out of reach. Arash drew on his experiences growing up, moving to Dubai, and embracing his own unique journey. Lastly, Naina brought humor to her piece and explained the obstacles involved in becoming a vegetarian. Each competitor performed well, and no front-runner was clearly established. Afterwards, audience members, judges, and competitors enjoyed a delicious buffet.


After dinner, the impromptu phase of the competition commenced. Each contestant was given a topic and required to give an unrehearsed five-minute speech. To my surprise, the topic was entertaining: “the best three ways to eat an Oreo.” If nothing else, the resulting speeches proved that the SpeakOut 2013 competitors are not only good speakers, but also talented comedians. The audience roared at the different jokes and interpretations considered by competitors.


As the competition portion of the event concluded, there was still no obvious winner. Each competitor had different strengths. But after some deliberation, the judges proclaimed our very own Sauder student, Naina Varshney, as the winner of SpeakOut 2013. Naina performed well in both portions of the competition, my favorite being her comedic description of how to eat an Oreo. Naina humbly accepted the SpeakOut title, and is “still somewhat shocked to have been chosen.” Her advice for future SpeakOut competitors is simple and clearly something Naina applied to her own performances: “pick a topic you care about.”


SpeakOut 2013 was incredibly successful. The audience was engaged for the entirety of the four-hour event. The BizzComm team led by Co-Chairs Grace MJ Kim and Joanna Lai and assisted by SpeakOut 2013 Coordinator Vincent Chung should be proud of their accomplishments. Congratulations to them and all the SpeakOut 2013 competitors for their hard work.