ESU Churchill Public Speaking Competition

Senior School
26 Nov 21

The prestigious ESU Churchill Public Speaking competition is the largest public speaking competition held in England. Each team comprises a speaker, questioner and chairperson.  This year, the first round was held on Zoom on Tuesday evening. Other schools involved in this first round were Bennett Memorial Diocesan School and St. Simon Stock Catholic School.

We had two teams in the competition (all Third Form students): Angus Brown, Seren Lloyd-Jones and Grace Manning-Greene making up one team and Fabian Gooding, Simone Rai and Derin Tekeli in the other team.  A special mention must go to Imogen Robinson who was on standby in case of illness; she attended all of the practices and supported the teams on the night.

First up was main speaker Angus with his speech “Should cyclists be licensed?”. Angus had produced a well-researched and thought-provoking speech and argued very effectively that cyclists should not be licensed. The judges particularly liked the structure of Angus’ speech and commented that it had “the right balance of personal anecdote and statistics”. Seren and Grace were chairperson and questioner respectively; they were tasked with finding out all about Simone’s speech, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”. Seren was praised for her energy in introducing Simone, whilst Grace asked insightful questions about Simone’s speech in which she discussed the complexity of human emotions as well as the impact of social media and technology on our lives. The judges liked the way Simone answered the questions and her delivery was perfect.  After that, Derin and Fabian were partnered with the speaker from Bennett Memorial Diocesan School whose topic was, “Should the internet be censored?”.  Derin had a natural warmth in his role as chairperson, whilst Fabian was a very effective questioner and was praised for asking follow-up questions. 

Afterwards, Angus said, “I really enjoyed the competition, and it was a great experience.  I can’t wait to do more of it and look forward to the next round and hopefully another win!”. Seren agreed, “I’ve always loved public speaking and I particularly enjoyed the ESU competition as we had to work very closely as a team.  I loved the role of chairperson but it was quite challenging at times”.  Grace added, “The competition was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the next round in February!”.

For many of the students, it was their first experience of public speaking, so what made them get involved?  Derin said, “I thought the public speaking would be something new and different. I learned that it is much better to be natural than to prepare too much in advance in the role of chairperson”. Fabian agreed, “I really wanted to get involved to try something new.  The most difficult thing about being a questioner was having to think on my feet. I would love to do it again next year”. Finally, Simone added, “It was my first time in a public speaking competition and it was quite scary taking on the role of speaker.  I enjoyed researching the topic and I learned how to express myself in a more sophisticated way.”

We are proud of all of the students who did a fantastic job. Angus, Grace and Seren are through to the next round to be held at Tonbridge School in February. A big thank you to Mrs Manning, Head of Public Speaking, for supporting and encouraging our students throughout their competition.