Gibson Public Speaking TournamentThe Gibson Public Speaking Tournament

The Gibson Public Speaking Tournament has been an annual event held each fall since 2004. In 2022 it was decided that students in the spring public speaking classes should have the same opportunity to participate. So beginning in 2023 the tournament will be held each spring and fall. The Gibson Public Speaking Tournament showcases the top students in our Public Speaking courses. Competitors present their persuasive speech, typically the most difficult speech of the semester. Speakers are evaluated on overall content and quality of persuasiveness, use of credible sources, well-reasoned and logically consistent arguments, and general delivery.

How It Works

There are two preliminary rounds judged by faculty from the School of Communication, Film, and Media. The top students in these rounds will then compete for the championship in the Final Round before a blue-ribbon panel of judges composed of university and community leaders.

Both preliminary and final rounds are open to the campus community, so feel free to come by and see our excellent students!

J. Chester Gibson headshot
J. Chester Gibson


The Gibson Public Speaking Tournament is named after of Dr. Chester Gibson, who served in the Department of Mass Communications for about three decades, first as professor and then as chair of the department. Before arriving at the University of West Georgia, he coached debate at the University of Georgia, where former Georgia governor Roy Barnes was one of his top debaters. Under Dr. Gibson’s leadership, the UWG debate team qualified for the National Debate Tournament for 27 consecutive years and consistently ranked among the top teams in the nation. In 1995, Dr. Gibson was inducted into the Georgia Debate Coaches Hall of Fame. He was also named one of the top eight speech teachers in the nation.  

Communication Studies Advisory Committee

  • Dr. Melanie Conrad
  • Dr. Michael Hester
  • Dr. Amy Mendes
  • Dr. Misty Wilson

Previous Gibson Public Speaking Contest winners:

  • Jim Martz, 2004 (Peggy Gauthier, Advisor)
  • Artisia Tinny, 2005 
  • Katherine England, 2006 
  • Cheryl Ann Frazier, 2007 
  • Jennifer Joiner, 2008 
  • Chelsie Wilson, 2009 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Anthony Duffey 2010 (Gail Reid, Advisor)
  • Mandy Morris, 2011 (Gail Reid, Advisor)
  • Christina DeMartina, 2012 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Daniel Garner, 2013 (Melanie Conrad, Advisor)
  • Sydney Rae West, 2014 (Gail Reid, Advisor)
  • Tim Bergquist, 2015 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Bode Brooks, Lucas Brock and Andrea Daniel, 2016
  • Gershom Chan, 2017 (Michael Hester, Advisor)
  • Esteban Vallejo, 2018 (Misty Wilson, Advisor)
  • Jessica Friedl, 2019 (Bruce Daniel, Advisor)
  • Zoe Giese, 2020 (Misty Wilson, Advisor)
  • Zoe LaBreche, 2022 (Amy Mendes, Advisor)