25 Feb “Experience Doesn’t Always Mean Success”- 2020 ESU Churchill Public Speaking Competition
By Lola and Eve
Year 9 Whitley Academy student reporters
When we boarded our school mini bus on Monday 27th January, we had no idea of what was ahead of us. An amazing evening filled with inspirational speeches and on the spot thinking was upon our team of debaters (Lola, Callum and Eve). But we couldn’t start the debate without arriving at the venue first! So at 2:30pm we set off on our journey to Lyng Hall School…
Upon our first glance, the students of the hosting school were very welcoming and showed us into their school Auditorium, where this ESU Churchill Public debate would be taking place. The dominating red colour of the Hall made us feel warmer despite the freezingly cold breezes of typical wintry weather out there in the open.
As soon as we sat down, we were struck with the surprising format of this debate. We all already had a careful read at the printed document of the ESU Student Handbook; however, it was a completely different story when you physically joined the audience, sitting there waiting for the first instruction from the organisers. It was like none other than we’d worked with before, and to be completely honest, we were a little bit panicked.
Specifically this ESU debating format was that the Chairperson (Lola) and Questioner (Eve), were partnered up with the Speaker from another school team and had to get as much information from them, and prepare a speech in the short margin of 25 minutes. So that meant our brave Speaker, Callum, was also paired with another school team J.
We had no time to waste. We were allocated the Speaker (named Elle) from Rugby school whose topic was: “The trip to Mars can wait, climate change cannot.”
With our tactful and friendly approach, we were asking our Speaker questions left, right and centre. We were sure she enjoyed that very much! We then said our goodbyes and wrote our speeches and faster than you can say antidisestablishmentarianism (yes, that’s the longest word in the English language).
The topics of this ESU debate were very interesting including:
“Population explosion will cause the end of our planet”
“HIV and AIDS are serious topics that have drifted from the headlines”
“Humour has its limits”
To name but a few.
Our time to shine
All the teams’ speeches kept us on the edge of our seats, but what threw us off the said edges was when it was our turn! YES! OUR TURN FINALLY CAME…
We first listened to Callum’s speech about the importance of the armed services being taught in schools. Callum delivered such a powerful speech: not only fluently from the beginning to the end, but also answering every tough question the audience questioners threw at him! 15 minutes later…now, at least Callum could relax.
But that’s more than we could say, because we were up next! Confidently, Lola delivered her introduction for our debate round. You would never believe that she only had less than half an hour to prepare. Then, we listened intently to our Speaker and it was Eve’s turn to, guess what … question the Speaker!
This was also done very well and the whole team was very proud of our performance, we’d given it our all.
Now came the most stressful part of the evening, the wait for the results. We weren’t expecting any awards, we were merely there to enjoy the afternoon, but we couldn’t help but cross our fingers and hope.
After much deliberation, the judges were ready to announce the winners, our hearts were beating out of our chests. We first were informed of the best individual roles, and surprisingly, Eve won the prize for The Best Questioner of the afternoon!
Eve was ecstatic, but before we could celebrate too much, we also got awarded with being the runner-up team!
We were shocked. We couldn’t even get our words out…We just stood there, at the front of the Auditorium and smiled. We had done it!
But within seconds, we decided to be the first in the queue to talk to the judges for feedback. We wanted to learn from the experience to prepare ourselves for the coming opportunities.
We congratulated the winners for their truly inspirational performance. To wrap up the evening, we helped ourselves to a much deserved buffet, and made our way home.
Now up to this moment of writing this blog, we still vividly remember the comments from the ESU judges about our performances, especially Eve’s- as the Best Questioner of the evening: “In my years of being the ESU judge, the quality of the delivery and the content of the questions were the BEST”.
What a night this was!
We hope you enjoyed reading about the experience as much as we enjoyed doing it. J