Public Speaking Update
Youth Speaks Round-Up
Public Speaking Update
The Bishop’s Stortford Rotary Club “Youth Speaks” competition is an event in which our students always enjoy taking part and this year’s was no exception.
For the first time in several years, TBSHS entered two teams in the Senior section (Year 10 and above), as did Herts and Essex and St. Mary’s Catholic School, with Bishop’s Stortford College and St Nicholas School, Harlow fielding one each. Our Year 10 trio was drawn to speak second and, undaunted by being among the youngest teams involved, did so with great confidence. James Frans made a very welcoming Chairman, introducing his team mates and the title of their presentation “Q?” very amusingly. He explained that Kashan Johar was going to talk about queuing rather than the boffin from the James Bond films.
Kashan’s speech was very well constructed and delivered with minimal reference to his notes, but just a little too quickly. Making good use of his voice and connecting well with his listeners, he explained the derivation of the word ‘queue’, weighed up the pros and cons of queuing and considered whether queuing is quintessentially British, demonstrating a pleasing range and depth of research. JJ Sathan then proposed a Vote of Thanks that, unlike several others on the night, fulfilled the requirements of his role perfectly. He rightly complimented Kashan on the originality of his subject and, in particular, his reference to Kashan’s answer to a question from the audience reflected his ability to ‘think on his feet’.
The TBSHS Year 12 team was fifth to take the stage with the title “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow”, referring to male pattern baldness. Chairman Dan Connor unveiled a list of expressions describing this, ranging from “slaphead” to “cranially enhanced”. He displayed a real warmth, but at times needed to project his voice rather more forcefully. Main speaker Tom Gee started by explaining the scientific reasons why many men go bald, before going on to enlighten the audience about pigeon droppings once being used as a cure for baldness. After a cautionary tale from the Bible, Tom ended by urging everyone to be more accepting of difference and, to embrace a lack of hair. This speech would have benefitted from greater variety of vocal expression, but was very well reasoned and the content was extremely engaging. The presentation was completed by what I felt was the best Vote of Thanks of the whole competition, given by Oliver Worthy. It was beautifully paced and every word was crystal clear. Oliver drew our attention to the informative nature of Tom’s speech and also brought a new slant to the topic by considering some of the great men of history who were bald.
The overall standard of the competition was impressive, with the College presentation on the glamourisation of crime gaining a well-deserved victory and the Herts and Essex team explaining “Why we should watch paint dry” also featuring very strongly. However, in the words of the judges, all our students were “right up there too” and they were particularly praised for their excellent teamwork.
The following week it was the turn of younger students in the Intermediate section. A smaller field was further reduced by the withdrawal of one team through illness, a fate shared by Bede Pinches, the main speaker for our Year 8 team. As it was too late to recruit another student to take on this major role, team coach Mr Patterson (surely the tallest speaker ever in this event) read Bede’s speech “Yours sincerely, Concerned of Stortford” – about the concerns of a 12- year-old boy, from homework to climate change, to the audience. The content and structure of the speech were extremely impressive (Mr Patterson’s delivery was pretty good too) – clearly Bede is a talent to watch. Despite a sore throat, Chairman Alex Steadman grew in confidence as his performance went on and Fiore Akinde gave sound support with his Vote of Thanks. Clearly this trio could not be judged against the other four teams, but at least their hard work in preparation did not go unrecognised and Fiore & Alex will have learned a lot from the experience. In the competition proper, the Year 9 TBSHS team, mentored as last year by Mr Shortland, spoke second after a strong performance from a team from Herts & Essex High School. Brandon Fage fulfilled all the required functions of Chairman, linking the various parts of the presentation on “Glossophobia” and introducing main speaker Alec Sneddon, describing him as a ‘mad scientist’. Alec showed no signs of an irrational fear of speaking in public, providing a confident and interesting insight into phobias. In addition to mentioning phobias involving spiders, clowns and a host of other examples, he examined where phobias come from and explained clearly the difference between a phobia and a rational fear. Alec made good use of gesture and vocal expression but unfortunately, like Brandon, the clarity of his speaking was inconsistent. However, Leon Welch’s Vote of Thanks was clear and very well-paced. He made an excellent good job of commenting on points of interest in Alec’s speech and the manner in which the audience question was answered, always a difficult part of this role, as it cannot be prepared in advance. The trophy was won by another team representing Herts & Essex with “Why the power of flight would be the best superpower” but our students (and their mentor) deserve praise for their hard work in preparation and the fact that all three of them were able to speak fluently and expressively with minimal reference to their notes.
Many thanks to all the students who represented the school so well in “Youth Speaks” and to their families and teachers who came along to support them, as well as to the Rotary Club for organising the competition and Bishop’s Stortford College for hosting it.
L-R: Ollie in Action, Daniel in Action, Tom in Action,