BELIEVE in what you say when you deliver an oration is the advice Oscar Grigg and Laura Benney have for students about to follow in their footsteps, and for anyone unsure about public speaking engagements.
Both well-versed in formal public speaking, they encourage more people to practice the art and be comfortable in finding their voice.
Laura is preparing for the Rostrum youth national public speaking finals later this month. The Ballarat High School year 11 student reached the national finals for the annual Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award two years ago.
Oscar, in year 10 at St Patrick’s College, is a two-time LJPSA state finalist and said belief and passion in what you say makes you more genuine for your audience.
“A lot of people didn’t get through early rounds because they would fall back in to typical public speaking gestures and tone,” Oscar said.
“Expect lots and lots of very good competition (in LJPSA), especially in regionals and states. When I went into regionals I was astounded by the level of talent. I definitely didn’t think I’d get as far as I did.”
Laura said competition can be nerve-racking, but you could also have fun and more like a celebration.
The upcoming LJPSA regional rounds in early August are part of a wider national competition for students aged 12-15. Elimination rounds span about six months to the national finals in November.
LJPSA also promotes the ideals of Legacy, voluntary service, comradeship and remembrance but also confidence in public speaking.
St Pats regional finalist Matthew Duffy reached states last year and said public speaking was an important skill to constantly fine-tune.
“Public speaking is such an important skill to have, no matter what job you have or want to go for, and it’s good to start training yourself from a young age,” Matthew said. “It’s good to have an opportunity to get back and do the whole competition again.”
First time regional finalists Gabby Ward and Maxwell Wakefield are a mix of nerves and excitement.
Maxwell, a St Pat’s year eight student, is focusing on voluntary soldiers. He said his school has a strong history in public speaking and he was keen to see how far he could progress and improve.
“Public speaking is like a sport,” Maxwell said. “People can get better at it. There is a real art to speaking and different ways of making a speech.”
Gabby is in year seven at Ballarat High and has prepared three pages for her five-minute speech so far. She is focusing on personal sacrifice, linking sacrifice in war to everyday sacrifice, like the choices parents for their children.
But Gabby is also working hard on her delivery.
“People say to look at a post, or focus on something like that, when you’re speaking, but I think it’s more engaging to look people in the eye and maintain that contact,” Gabby said.
Legacy is an organisation dedicated to the welfare of widows and children of Australian Defence Force members and veterans.
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