Now in its 11th year, the program is presented by the magazine in conjunction with the Professional Speechwriters Association, and is open to speechwriters worldwide from any area of the public and private sectors. A panel of speechwriting experts judge entries based on several criteria, including substance, style, and coherence.
The awards go to writers in many categories, including technology, education, healthcare, and public policy, along with one Grand Award winner—the best of the best.
Vital Speeches Editor and Cicero Awards Program Chair David Murray noticed a trend in this year’s submissions: an increase in the use of storytelling.
“Storytelling is a compelling, memorable way to move an audience, said Murray. “In fact, most of this year’s Cicero winners used story to powerful effect—whether as a personal anecdote to connect a speaker to the audience, or, this year’s Grand Award winner, as the structure of the entire speech.”
The Grand award winner, “The Power of Story,” was written by Matthew Kivel and delivered by University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves. The speech tells the story of the speaker’s father, who survived the Holocaust through both an incredible combination of luck and courage, and lived a life that turned out to be thoroughly worth saving.