Student at Community College of Aurora Earns Denver Metro Title as Top Persuasive Speaker

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Matt Jensen of CCA, a Colorado community college, wins a rigorously judged event that included several local-area students as competitors.

Matt Jensen with CCA Communication faculty Vicki Graham after taking first place at the City Wide Persuasive Speaking competition, Denver metro area. Jensen beat four other finalists for the title.

I’m very proud to have this. It’s a confidence builder...This is my first year back in school after a long hiatus and I had a lot of doubts about how I’d perform as a student. This very much reassured me

Persuasive speaking came easily to Matt Jensen, even at an early age.

“I’m pretty sure I invented, ‘If mom says no, ask dad’,” he joked.

Jensen then honed his skills the last six years as a bartender, a petri dish of persuasive speaking, with some pitches more effective than others. He could serve as a mixologist and persuasive speaking judge, with ‘on-the-house’ the customer’s desired prize.

Jensen’s role in theater projects and music only sharpened his ability to deliver to an audience in unaffected fashion.

All that practice paid off handsomely May 3 when this student of CCA, a community college in Denver and Aurora, Colorado, won the City Wide Persuasive Speaking competition. Winning speakers from satellite events at five community colleges – CCA, CCD, Arapahoe, Front Range and Red Rocks – competed for the title of metro-Denver area champion.

Jensen’s topic was entitled, “For a Few Dollars More: Popcorn, 3D, & IMAX,” which touched upon the inflation of movie prices.

“My thesis was that despite Hollywood’s best efforts to regain audiences – because they’ve been losing audiences for the last 75 years -- have actually served to drive them further away.”

The main points must be supported by sufficient evidence, while the speech is clearly organized and easy to follow. Vicki Graham, Jensen’s faculty in Communication 115, started the project at Community College of Aurora by setting rigid standards on sourcing, including a hierarchy of the most credible sources that had to be produced in hard-copy form. Each competitor’s 6-8 minute speech had to be memorized, though participants, once competition started, could use note cards or an 81/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper. No visual aids of any kind were allowed.

Criteria included aspects of the speech’s introduction, body, conclusion, and delivery.

Karen M. Buchanan of Regis University, Mike Monsour of Metropolitan State University of Denver and Maisha Fields Vogel of the University of Colorado comprised the judging panel.

Jensen said he actually felt more comfortable in the citywide competition because of his experience speaking on stage in front of an audience but still never was quite confident of his standing in the competition until his name was announced in first place.

Jensen actually went first and had to watch the other four competitors give their speeches before learning that outcome.

The four other finalists and their speech titles were: Andrew Friedrich (“Ethically-Eating”); Ashia Greenleaf (“Unique Minds”); Josh Myrick (“Not Another Love Story”); and Sarah Moldenhauer (“Demystifying Eating Disorders”).

“I never, ever feel like I’ve ‘nailed it,’ since there’s always 10,000 things you tell yourself you could have done better,” Jensen said.

Jensen won numerous prizes, including a Swedish massage and a facial, a Moroccan purse (“which actually became my mom’s this weekend.”), prime Colorado Rockies tickets, plus bookstore and restaurant gift cards.

But winning was a reward in itself.

“I’m very proud to have this. It’s a confidence builder,” he explained. “This is my first year back in school after a long hiatus and I had a lot of doubts about how I’d perform as a student. This very much reassured me and reminds me that I still have skills that I haven’t really addressed in about seven years.”

Jensen added that the skills he’s learned in his communication class are useful on a daily basis, through various interactions with people from all areas of his life.

Jensen is studying Film and wants to be a movie screenwriter in the future.

At the very least, he already has a head start on the proper form for a convincing pitch.

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About CCA
Community College of Aurora has campuses at CentreTech and Lowry in the greater Denver area. Equipped with the latest technologies, CCA allows students to study new and traditional programs, while also offering Colorado online classes and degrees. CCA’s service community spans 325,000 people in a 350-square-mile area and CCA’s student population reflects that diversity. The college provides lifelong educational opportunities, prepares the current and future workforce, and promotes excellence in teaching, learning and service.

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Lee Rasizer
Community College of Aurora
(303) 360-4728
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