25 January 2023
Share this article:
Lower Sixth student, Rebecca T, was celebrating last night after winning a bronze medal in the prestigious Gresham College Speaking competition, sparring off competition from 360 other applicants from schools across the UK.
This is the first year of the Gresham Competition, which was designed to encourage students to develop their public speaking and presentation skills. Rather than focus on debate and argument like many other public speaking competitions, the Gresham Competition looks at how to present in a clear and compelling way. This year’s theme was the environment and sustainability.
Sixth Form students entered the competition by recording themselves making a five-minute presentation, which the ten finalists then presented in-person in front of a panel of judges from Gresham College, Oxford Net Zero, the Financial Times and another national news outlet.
Questions the students could choose to focus on included:
Who should be responsible for creating a better future environment for the next generation? How and why?
What should the UK government do about the environment that will benefit your generation?
Who should be most responsible for getting to Net Zero and why?
What is the greatest positive environmental change you expect to see in your lifetime?
What responsibilities should young people take on in addressing environmental/climate issues today and why?
Professor Martin Elliott, Provost of Gresham College, said, “We had so many brilliant entries for the Competition this year, competition was extremely fierce, so getting through to the finals is a real achievement – let alone winning! Speaking and presenting in public is a real life skill.” Professor Elliott gives speeches about medicine all over the world.
Speaking of her experience, Rebecca commented, “It was a privilege to even be shortlisted for the Gresham’s National Public Speaking Competition, and the idea that I won a bronze medal, especially up against such eloquent and intelligent competition, still feels surreal to me.
I greatly appreciate the platform that the competition gave me, allowing me to speak out in support of climate change action; the ability for young people to voice their opinions is something that I really believe in – it’s so encouraging to see colleges like Gresham’s prioritising this kind of rhetoric.
Overall, the experience has been an amazing one that I will value as I move forward into Upper Sixth and beyond. If I have learnt anything that I would pass on from this: no matter whether you believe you will succeed or fail miserably, go for it – give it a go, because two months ago, I never believed I would even have the opportunity to go to the final, and here I am..!”
Congratulations to Rebecca on this fantastic achievement.