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Primary Schools Public Speaking Competition

The Rotary Public Speaking competition has been running in Wynnum since 1978 when introduced by Wynnum North State School’s ex Principal Harold Armstrong. He was a member of the Beach Front Runners at the time and members would have a coffee and chat after exercise and chat about solving the world's problems. Since inception they have sponsored the Encouragement Award and taken part in the process. 

More than 40 years later the competition’s importance has continued to grow as education has placed more and more emphasis on children being able to communicate.   Public speaking helps the speaker to gain self-esteem; enables the speaker to improve critical thinking skills; helps in the future for career advancement and decreases the fear of impromptu speaking. The Rotary Public Speaking competition gives students the competitive chance to hone these skills.

An added bonus is that Rotary presents each student reaching the semifinal with a Certificate of Excellence. The winner and runner-up receive trophies and all six finalists receive a money prize.

The winning student’s school is presented with a perpetual trophy so all competing students from that school can feel they have contributed to the win.

The Rotary Public Speaking competition fits in very well with the year 6 English units in C2C. Throughout the year and throughout the units the students study and write persuasive stories and speeches. Teachers value the competition greatly. 

The Rotary competition is also a persuasive speech with an extra element, that of entertainment.

In the C2C unit persuasive speaking emphasizes arguments to back a point of view. In the Rotary competition the choice of topic is such that the student still argues a point of view but with a touch of humour.

Style of Speech:

The speech is a persuasive argument not a mini lecture. Its role is to convince the audience and at the same time entertain. 

The speech generally comes in 2 forms.

  • Humorous persuasion. A topic such as “Men are better than women”.
  • Uplifting persuasion. A topic such as “Heroes and their value”.

Each speech type has its own particular value through the humorous speech appears to be more popular.

Pick a topic which will be suitable for the intended audience of adjudicators and Rotarians- an adult audience.

A good speech will entertain both school children and adults.

Where Do You Get The Topics?

  1. The students mostly come up with their own ideas, whether through parental guidance or their own interests.
  2. Any idea can be turned into a persuasive speech. I have heard good speeches on Hair, Smoking, Why Men Fish, Why Boys Like Justin Bieber …All are unusual ideas but they worked.
  3. Articles from the newspaper can be a good source of material. Pieces from the colour supplement on Saturday and Sunday where writers give their opinion on a wide range of topics can lead to an interesting persuasive speech.
  4. Obviously, the internet is a major source of information. It is excellent for quotes, facts and arguments.

Below is a list of topics that have been done over the years. Because they have been presented before doesn’t mean they need to be discounted. A novel, fresh approach will make the topic come alive again. 

Humorous: Lies; It’s a Dog’s Life; TV. Friend or Foe!; What’s in a Name; Help!; It’s Our Home Too!; What a Dilemma!; Dad’s Cooking; Sibling Rivalry; Bad habits; Get Off the Grass; Gimmicks; Neighbours; and Fashion. 

Uplifting: The Power of Positive Thinking; Australia - The Lucky Country; Make Good Health A Good Habit; Success; Pride in Our Nation; Things Money Can’t Buy; Ambition; and Our Heroes. 

The competition starts mid year with invitations sent out to the schools for them to be ready for the Competition. The Schools hold their own knock-out competitions which lead up to the semi finalists being selected then about 20 semi finalists all receive a certificate to recognise all the hard work done for them to make the semi finals. Then mid-week in mid-October they do their speeches and six finalists are selected. Finals are held in late October usually.

On 31 October 2018 the six finalists delivered speeches to an audience of about 60 people comprising Rotarians, Beachfront Runners, family and public. The topics were:“I still have a dream,”elaborating on the Martin Luther King theme; “AFL.” - quoting AFL sucks!; “Why was I not born a Guy.”; “Technology of the Future.”; “Music,”adding “Music is a huge part of our lives”!; “Why ‘Can’t’ is not a Word.”

They received the following awards: 

The Three Finalist Awards: (In no particular order) Danielle Human, of  Gumdale State School - $40, Bailey Nisbet, of Moreton Bay Boys College - $40, and Aphrodite Vourdousis of Guardian Angels School - $40. 

People’s Choice Award: – Callie Bannister of Manly State Primary School - $60. 

Runner Up: Jasper Vinen, from Iona College - $100 plus a trophy.

First Place: Lakhsheeny Parasuraman, from Moreton Bay College - $120 plus a trophy.

Encouragement Award: Callie Bannister of Manly State School - $100 presented by David Beckinsale for the Beachfront Runners

Winning School - Perpetual Trophy: returned to Moreton Bay College and was received by Kylee Phillips.