Youth Speaks by Graham Lee

Youth Speaks by Graham Lee


Over the last 6 weeks I had the pleasure of working with the Benenden School public speaking team, helping them with their preparations for the Rotary ‘Youth Speaks’ Competition. The competition is organised and promoted by Rotary International in Great Britain & Ireland and sponsored by Gandys (Orphans for Orphans). Benenden was asked if we’d like to host the competition and we were delighted to do so, welcoming visiting teams from Sutton Valence School and The Tower School, Ashford.

Youth Speaks is a four stage competition designed to support and encourage development of effective communication skills. The competition is open to teams of three students in full time education in two age groups: Intermediate 11 to 13 years and Senior 14 to 17 years. Each team member takes one of three roles: chairperson, speaker or vote of thanks, and is allocated a specific time to perform their role. With no intermediate team in our competition in this round, Tenterden Rotary decided that each team could include a younger speaker who would deliver a 4 minute speech and this would be judged separately from the senior team.

The evening was great success and the competition was a great opportunity for young people to practice their speaking skills in a structured and supportive environment.

Congratulations to Sutton Valence for winning the team event and at Benenden we were delighted that our Senior Speaker won the individual speaker cup with a talk on “Improving the Education System” and our Junior speaker won with a talk on “Does Religion Hinder Social Progress?”.

Our Senior speaker was Caitlin Powell and I asked her to write me a paragraph on how her experience was useful to her.

“When we present ourselves, or our projects or apply for jobs, the way we speak is incredibly important. Articulation and projection when talking before others, specially large groups of people is essential. Speaking confidently fills an audience with conviction. We are more likely to be persuaded by someone when they speak well and sound like they know what they are talking about. Public speaking is a key skill everyone should learn from a young age. Whether for business, competitions or jobs this skill is one I would recommend everyone to develop.”