Heschel Talks

“HeschelTalks” Public Speaking Contest

Come one, come all! Submit a TED Talk-style speech for the first ever “HeschelTalks” Public Speaking Contest! Zoom is a great medium for public speaking, and now is a perfect time to test your skills and win a fantastic prize.

Here’s how this is going to work:

  1. You are invited to record a “HeschelTalk” on the following question: What is something you have learned since we began learning on Zoom? Think about the idea of “learning” in the broadest sense possible. Keep in mind that this talk is meant for the whole school: What is something important you’ve learned in the last few months, and why would it be meaningful for the high school community to know about it? Note: while humor is welcome and can be a vital part of your story, this is not a forum for stand-up comedy.

  1. Any student in grades 9-12 is invited to submit a HeschelTalk.

  1. Record yourself delivering your HeschelTalk. You may write a speech that you read from, or you may speak more extemporaneously. Your HeschelTalk must be 2-3 minutes long.

  1. Your Heschel Talk is due Friday, June 5th by 10am. Email it to Austin (austin.davis@heschel.org) as a Google Drive file. Talks will then be reviewed by our panel of faculty judges. Criteria for a successful HeschelTalk are included below.

  1. Four finalists will be chosen to deliver their HeschelTalks for the whole school live on Zoom. You’ll deliver your talk at the Closing Breakfast on Tuesday, June 16th. All finalists will receive some Heschelwear to recognize their accomplishments.

  1. Faculty judges will choose one final winner, who will be announced at the Closing Breakfast. The winner will receive a one-year all-access subscription to MasterClass. Here’s some info from the MasterClass website: “MasterClass is the streaming platform that makes it possible for anyone to watch or listen to hundreds of video lessons taught by 80+ of the world’s best. Whether it be in business and leadership, photography, cooking, writing, acting, music, sports, and more, MasterClass delivers a world class online learning experience. Video lessons are available anytime, anywhere on your smartphone, personal computer, Apple TV and FireTV streaming media players.”

The winner will get to enjoy classes with Jodie Foster, Anna Wintour, Natalie Portman, David Sedaris, Itzhak Perlman, Christina Aguilera, Margaret Atwood, Serena Williams, Stephen Curry, Annie Leibovitz, and more!

Send any questions to Austin Davis or Sandra Silverman. We can’t wait to hear your HeschelTalk!

Criteria for a Successful HeschelTalk


1. Is the purpose clear to the audience?

2. Does the introduction get the audience’s attention?

3. Are there 2 to 5 specific points?

4. Are the points arranged in logical order and supported with evidence?

5. Does all material in the speech contribute to the purpose?

6. Does the speech contain a clear, effective conclusion?

7. Is this a speech, not an essay?


1. Does the speaker get set before beginning to speak?

2. Does the speaker sound prepared and confident?

3. Does the speaker read from his/her notes or speak to the audience?

4. Does the speaker speak slowly and clearly and avoid use of “fillers” such as: um, like, okay?

5. Do speaker’s body movements distract the listener?