Student experiences being a speaker in the House

Posted on October 31, 2017

Having the opportunity to speak in the NSW Parliament House is something most people would only dream of. 

However, Year 9 Arden Anglican School student William Massey has already experienced this moment when he reached the NSW Semi-Finals of the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award in September.  “It was an amazing honour and experience to speak in State Parliament House,” said William.  “It felt quite incredible standing before an audience in the Legislative Assembly.”

William was one of only 24 students aged 12 – 14 years from across the State who spoke at NSW Parliament House.  He spoke on “The Digital Drug” for his five minute prepared speech and on “A Wake Up Call” for his three minute impromptu speech on a given topic.  This opportunity was the culmination of a rigorous competition in which William first competed in the Northern Sydney Local Final, then proceeded to the Northern Sydney Regional Final, and was subsequently chosen as a NSW semi-finalist.

 Mrs Lisa Neale, Arden’s Public Speaking Coordinator, said:  “William did a fantastic job at the Semi-Finals in the somewhat daunting and grand environment of the Legislative Council Chamber.  Unfortunately, he did not progress to the State Final.  However, it must be said that this is an extremely challenging competition, which requires not only a lengthy prepared speech but also an impromptu speech at every level of the competition, with only five minutes to prepare each time.  It is a very significant achievement to progress this far in this competition, and we congratulate William for all of his successes along the way.”

William’s interest in public speaking started in Year 3 with a multicultural public speaking competition.  Over the years William has continued to develop his public speaking skills.  He shared:  “Arden has given me numerous opportunities to develop my Public Speaking skills, including involvement in inter-school Debating competitions, competing in the Rostrum Public Speaking Award, and also taking part in Arden’s own Public Speaking competition (The Communicators’ Award) in Years 5 and 6.  In Secondary School I have been a member of the lunch time Public Speaking group, which has helped me in particular to develop my impromptu speaking skills.”

The benefits of public speaking are numerous, with William sharing:  “Competing in Public Speaking competitions such as Legacy, as well as taking part in other co-curricular activities (such as Debating and Theatresports) have helped me to develop the ability to formulate and sequence ideas and arguments in a logical manner, and to improve my confidence and ability to speak in front of large audiences.  Public Speaking definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone!”

Reflecting on the aspects he finds most challenging, William reflected: “For me, the hardest parts are the moments just before you are about to get on stage.  I am always nervous before doing a speech, especially when it is an impromptu speech.  However, it’s all worth it, because I always feel an incredible sense of achievement once my speech is over.”

William’s tips:  “My best advice would be to make the most of every opportunity you have to speak – even if it’s just a short homework assignment.  Also get involved in co-curricular activities and competitions which give you these opportunities.  Debating, Theatresports and Drama as well as competitions such as Rostrum Voice of Youth and the Legacy competition have definitely improved my own skills as a public speaker.”