Bok center support: sarah jessop

Sarah Jessop, Associate Director for Speaking and Engagement, works each year with the Commencement Oration Speakers, both graduate and undergrad, to help them practice and further hone their speeches. Rather than focusing solely on pronunciation, diction, or memory—the end of Cicero’s Five Canons of Rhetoric—she’s actually helping them arrange and re-form all parts of the speech. Rather, Sarah’s training emphasizes the interplay between memory and delivery, and style and arrangement. When a speaker encounters a roadblock with the delivery, or if it feels as though the performance isn’t going right, Sarah alongside the speaker returns to the text of the script in order to diagnose the problem and resolve it.  

In addition to this training work, Sarah has worked to better publicize the orations competition, mounting a full-scale redesign of the competition materials and ensuring that knowledge of the competition reaches a broader range and diversity of students.


Media, tools and literacies: Speaking, speech development

Deliverables & outcomes: Speech delivered before audience of 30,000 at Harvard Commencement