In honor of World Speech Day, we’ve picked out a few of the best bits from the speeches delivered at our International Public Speaking Competition Final (IPSC) last May
There’s no one way to give a great public speech, things like topic, audience, and personal style will shape what approach is most effective for you, but a great way to start learning what works is by watching other top speakers. Our competitors showed off a wide range of fantastic techniques which should provide you with some inspiration and ideas to draw on when coming up with your own speech.
Last year’s IPSC theme was “Peace is not an absence of war”, so please be aware that many of these speeches contain themes of violence, graphic descriptions of killing or discussion of suicide – do exercise caution if sharing these with younger viewers.
Have an engaging opening
Watch Luke’s speech at 0:15, this opening immediately grabs your attention and makes you want to find out more. Luke, our competitor from Australia, has given us lots of information, but we are left waiting for the key detail that brings it all together
Consider the pacing of your delivery
The speed of your speech can dramatically alter it’s effect and shape your audience’s feelings. Watch our Canadian participant Owen, at 0:12, as he takes a measured pace, pausing frequently to highlight details as he paints a picture and sets the scene.
In contrast, at 0.11 you can see that Junaid, representing England & Wales, uses a rapid delivery, creating an anxious tension which conveys the feelings of his subject.
Have a structure, and make it interesting if you can!
There’s nothing wrong with ‘I have three points, and they are X, Y, and Z,’ but sometimes you can have a clear structure in a more interesting way. Watch Tin Pui, from Hong Kong, at 1:18 as he uses a gentle pun about ‘SPF’ not only to raise a chuckle, but also to give the rest of his speech a structure to use.
Use impactful rhetoric
When working with a topic for public speaking you don’t have to take the most literal interpretation of the task. Often there are moving perspectives that take a twist on the idea. Watch Yunxiang GU from China (at 0.39) as he uses a prompt about peace and war to take us off in an interesting direction, simply by using a neat turn of thought and language.
Tell a story
Stories are an ancient mode of communication, and often give us a great rhetorical tool. Watch Shiandra from Sri Lanka (at 2:47) as she uses two tragic stories to bring home the true depth of suffering among the women of her country.
While your audience will all (hopefully!) be listening to your speech, you can still try to engage more of their senses. Watch Luke at 1:08 as he uses images of light and dark to paint an evocative scene that his audience can visualise.
Deliver a strong ending
Every great speech has a great ending, and all of our finalists’ speeches have strong finishes. At 4.29, Junaidwraps up his message with a powerful call to action, whilst
Mexico’s Marcelo (at 4.26) ends on a moment of reflection and insight. This leaves the audience with a lasting impression and the motivation to pursue the change the speaker wants to see.
We have picked out a few highlights from our IPSC speeches but you might want to watch the full set, including how the speakers handle questions. Not every approach will work for you and not all ideas will inspire you, but everyone can learn something from listening to others. Find all of the videos from last year’s IPSC final together on our YouTube channel.
This year’s IPSC Final, on the topic “The best way to predict the future is to invent it” will be live-streamed on Friday 18th May. Follow us on Facebook to watch the event live. Or, if you’re within easy reach of Cambridge, you can come along to watch some of the top young speakers in England at the ESU-Churchill Public Speaking Competition National Final on Saturday 21st April. Tickets are free and can be reserved online here.