The International Public Speaking Competition took place in London from Monday 14 May to Friday 18 May 2012. The English-Speaking Union hosted 54 delegates from across the globe with 51 countries competing.
The IPSC is now in its 31st year and brings together students from all six continents for a week combining cultural activities with competitive speaking. All competitors were sent to represent their country having won their national public speaking competition; so were all very accomplished speakers in their own right.
Their busy programme started Tuesday morning at Dartmouth House with a day of workshops delivered by some of the ESU’s most experienced mentors. This was followed by a day of cultural activities on Wednesday which included a visit to the Houses of Parliament, a Routemaster bus tour taking in some of London’s most famous sights and performance workshop delivered by trained actors at The Globe Theatre.
Thursday morning was the start of the formal competition and saw the competitors speaking in heats on their prepared topics. After a morning of excellent speeches and questions, the competitors went on to Kensington Palace to visit the current exhibitions and speak to the curators and education team there. The day was rounded off with an evening in the West End taking in Shrek the Musical, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Friday morning saw the competitors and accompanying guests descend on Dartmouth House to hear who would be progressing to the semi-finals. The 18 semi-finalists were each given 15 minutes each to choose from a selection of three topics and prepare a three-minute speech. With the six finalists chosen, all delegates and guests made their way to HSBC Headquarters at Canary Wharf, who generously support this competition. After a splendid lunch, our six finalists took the podium in front of fellow competitors, guests and our esteemed adjudication panel consisting of Roger Tilbury (ESU Governor), Andy Russell (HSBC) and Natalie Bennett (former editor of the Guardian newspaper).
The finalists represented Canada, South Africa, China, Denmark, Malaysia and Hong Kong and all six individuals spoke passionately on their chosen topics. Alas, the judging panel and the audience alike had difficult decisions to make. The Audience Choice Award went to Stephen Buabeng-Baidoo from South Africa and the runner-up, as chosen by the judges, was Jiehao Chen from China. Ultimately the winner of this year’s International Public Speaking Competition was Marina Hsien Wei Tan from Malaysia. Marina spoke passionately on how young activists achieve meaningful change during her speech which was entitled “The Game Changer.” Following one last reception and set of photographs at Dartmouth House, the delegates bid their goodbyes to each other; promising to keep in touch with their new-found friends.
A thoroughly enjoyable time was had by students and staff alike throughout the week. The ESU wishes all the delegates the best of luck with their futures and hopes they keep in touch. Marina will be invited back to London for the Winners’ Ceremony in November.