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ORATORY: “The art of speaking in public, eloquently and reflectively”


The Oliver H. Hicks Oratorical Contest was inaugurated through the generosity of Mrs. Gertrude G. Hicks, widow of Oliver H. Hicks, V’1868.

The goal of the contest is to explore Sigma Phi through the art of public speaking. It is open to all undergraduates throughout the Society.


The first contest was held in 1922, at the 95th Convention in Madison, Wisconsin. The prize oration that year was delivered by George F. Howe, V’19. His topic was “Sigma Phi in a Changing World.”


Each orator has up to 10 minutes to reach his audience on a topic both predictable and deliberately broad: “Sigma Phi.” His oration is judged by a panel of three esteemed alumni using such criteria as:

· Content

· Originality &

· Delivery


It is likely that a speech with the following characteristics will stand the best chance of winning the contest:

· Well-thought out and prepared in advance

· Rehearsed

· Not read directly from the paper or electronic device it’s written on (though it need not be memorized)

The winner is entitled to a stipend of $400. The selection of the top orator remains a secret until announced at the Convention Banquet, when the winner is asked to deliver his unique ‘pearls of wisdom’ to the dinner participants. All contestants should, therefore, bring copies of their speech manuscript with them to the banquet so they are prepared to present their speech in the event they are announced as the winner. The winning oration is also traditionally published in the next issue of the Sigma Phi Flame.


The real reward, however, is participation. All orators share equally in that compensation. No Brother who has taken this unique membership opportunity, prepared for it, and used it to share his fraternal heart has ever regretted the investment.

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