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Zaki L. '20 wins 1st place at the Canadian National Public Speaking Championship

Zaki L. '20 wins 1st place at the Canadian National Public Speaking Championship

By: Mr. Len Fink, STS Faculty 

This past weekend, Zaki L.’20 competed in the Canadian National Public Speaking Championship at St. John’s Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg, MB. I am thrilled to report that Zaki won the Benny Claman Trophy for 1st place in the tournament, becoming Canadian National champion! In order to compete in this tournament, students must have previously qualified at the provincial level; subsequently, the caliber of speakers is incredibly strong. Each of the participants must compete twice in four categories, including persuasive speaking, impromptu speaking, interpretive reading, and parliamentary debate. It is during this preliminary segment of the tournament in which the overall rankings are determined from the average score of each of the two rounds. Based upon the preliminary rankings, students advance to the final rounds of the competition, and Zaki was the only competitor to advance to the finals in all four categories. In the finals, he placed fourth in impromptu speaking, third in persuasive speaking and first in interpretive reading. Zaki has competed in this tournament for the last two years; therefore, it was very rewarding for him to win this prestigious award in his final year of Senior School. As well, placing 1st in the tournament qualifies him to represent Canada and STS at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in Shanghai this April.

As indicated previously, students must compete in four categories and two of these are prepared in advance by the student. One of the challenging aspects of competing at any level is selecting the topic for the prepared speech, and finding a reading that will capture the attention of the audience. The persuasive speech must be a problem-solution approach and Zaki spoke on the subject of increasing violence in Canadian Schools. The interpretive reading can be serious or humours and Zaki chose to read a hilarious passage from the novel, Skulduggery Pleasant; Scepter of the Ancients where a family has assembled in a solicitor’s office to hear the reading of a will from a deceased family member humorously depicting how greed overtakes family unity.

The two impromptu categories of the competition include impromptu speaking and parliamentary debate. In the impromptu speaking category, students are given three possible topics requiring no specific knowledge or expertise. The students only have only two minutes to select the topic and plan their speech and they are not allowed to refer to any notes they have made in preparation. In the first round, Zaki spoke on the topic of “the riskier the road, the greater the gain”, in the second round, “less is more” and in the finals he spoke on “reach for what you want”. The minimum speaking time is three minutes and the maximum time is five minutes and Zaki used his time effectively in each round speaking to the maximum five minutes.

At the national public speaking competition, parliamentary debate is always a category. This debate is impromptu and like impromptu speaking, the topics do not require pervious research or expertise. This is coordinate parliamentary debating. Each competitor will debate with a partner from another province and each student is judged individually.  Resolutions must be defined in a way that a reasonable person might interpret the resolution and should be in keeping with the intent of the resolution.  Each speaker will have 7 minutes for their major speeches and the first speaker on each side will deliver a 3 minute rebuttal.  In this style, the Prime Minister delivers a 4 minute speech followed by the Leader of the Opposition. Both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition will give a separate 3 minute rebuttal at the end of the debate.  The resolutions that Zaki debated were, “this house regrets the romanticizing of the criminal lifestyle in popular culture” and the second resolution, “this house would prioritize the well being of the environment over the well being of humans.”

We are very proud of Zaki’s achievement at the Senior National Public Speaking Competition. He is poised to do well at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in April 2020 and we wish him well!