International Public Speaking Competition 2012
- a participant's experience
Martha Zammit, the winner of the English-Speaking Union of Malta's Public Speaking Competition 2012 held on the 29th February 2012, represented Malta at the ESU International Public Speaking Competition held in London between Monday 14 May and Friday 18 May 2012 where she competed against winners of ESU national competitions held in more than 51 countries (read story about the ESU Malta Public Speaking finals).
Participation in the IPSC was indeed a formative experience for Martha, a student at St Martin's College, and she has given us an account of her experience.
Martha Zammit writes:
It was with some reservation and a good deal of trepidation that I signed up for ESU Malta’s brief training course at the beginning of the scholastic year. I am not by nature a very competitive individual, and as such was not enticed by the promise of taking part in a national, much less international, competition- where I would have to stand up in front of an extensive audience, deliver a speech and face questioning about my subject material. I signed up because, as Ms Giuliana Fenech, the Director of Education at ESU Malta, rightly pointed out during her address to my sixth form, at some point in my life, I would have to speak about something, and I figured that little harm could come from listening to what the ESU had to say about the matter.
Over the subsequent months we had three or four brief sessions carried out by both local and foreign tutors where we were given pointers regarding how to address an audience, including pointers on how to project ourselves, how to use our voice and body language to carry a point across and how to structure a valid argument. The sessions were brief, and offered insight into these matters concisely, through group work and learning games.
The National Finals were an eye-opener. I was the first of the five participants to give my speech about the Wisdom of Youth entitled “Wisdom: Gilded Cage or Clean Slate?” It was the first time I had addressed an audience, and I was terrified. I must admit, I was very glad to have a podium to hide behind, and I believe all my fellow participants did too. As I commenced my speech, and grew accustomed to the idea that I was not going to be booed off the stage, I quite warmed to the idea of people being made to listen to me.
Those seven minutes brought me a week in London, and the honour of representing Malta in the ESU International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC). Some further training was provided by Ms Yasmeen Ariff, who was assigned as my very kind and helpful tutor in the interim between the National Finals and the London Finals, and to whom I owe an immense debt of gratitude. The organisers, Mr Éamon Chawke and Ms Annette Fischer were friendly and approachable and were more than ready to shepherd the competitors through the London Underground and rescue us when we got lost.
Various workshops were organised to improve our skills, both at Dartmouth House, the imposing ESU Head Quarters, and other locations, such as the Globe Theatre, where professionals offered useful and pertinent advice and practice for the upcoming competition. The ‘extra-curricular’ activities were great fun, and ranged from bowling and karaoke at the Queen’s Ice and Bowl to Shrek the Musical and a Tour of London on a Routemaster bus.
Upon meeting my fellow competitors, I was immediately impressed by their skill and maturity, and the clarity and openness with which they spoke. The fifty-four competitors from fifty-one different countries were all very friendly and passionate about the myriad of causes they supported. It was a wonderful experience, made all the sweeter by the interesting friends made along the way.
Although I did not get past the Heats, I hope that Malta will compete again, and, with any luck, do better! I enjoyed everything to do with the Competition - not least of all my fellow competitors’ speeches and outlooks, which are an inspiration to pursue public speaking if there ever was one.
Read more about the ESU International Public Speaking Competition 2012.