Public Speaking Success at Wycombe Abbey

The ability to speak to an audience is a skill which all our pupils are likely to require at some point throughout their life. We place great emphasis on the development of oracy in our pupils, and the Debating and Public Speaking society is one such avenue through which we encourage this. In our weekly Monday training sessions, alongside developing the argumentative skills required for debating, we work on the core skills required to present effectively. This could be analysing speech structure and signposting, incorporating rhetorical devices, or just developing the confidence to stand up in front of an audience. There is also a dedicated Junior session for the UIII to build up their confidence speaking in front of others before they join the senior sessions.

This term, we entered the two English Speaking Union competitions: ESU Mace and ESU Churchill. ESU Churchill is a public speaking competition in which teams of three prepare a five-minute persuasive speech, whilst also chairing and questioning a speaker from another team. We entered two teams this year, Cice (LV), Abila (LV) and Aubrey (LV), and Mable (UIV), Catherine (UIV) and Annika (UIV). Cice made an emotive and impassioned speech about returning the Elgin marbles to the Parthenon in Greece; and Mable gave a weighty and vivid speech on the impermissibility of torture. Both teams received high praise by the judges and will be progressing to Round Two of the competition in the new year.

ESU Mace is a hybrid debating/public speaking competition in which teams of three prepare speeches for a long form debate on a pre-released topic. This term, Mia (LVI), Lily (LVI) and Megan (LVI) spoke in favour of banning the use of digital manipulation in all forms of advertising. The team were highly commended by the judges and will be progressing through to Round Two of the competition, which we will be hosting here in January.

Well done to all our pupils who have challenged themselves to speak to an audience this term, we look forward to seeing many more speeches in the new year!

Mr Alec Howells
Deputy Head of Lower School (UIII – LIV), Teacher of Computer Science and Religious Studies, Teacher i/c of Debating

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