长沙7喜 2016-05-18


Competing in a prestigious international competition like the International Public Speaking Competition may sound like a daunting task, but the atmosphere on the day is surprisingly relaxed. It is no grand ceremony, but rather, the competition is characterized by clarity of format and rules, and orderliness of proceedings. 

Chinese contestant Wang Xiwen (second from left) with Xia Peng (left), leader of the Chinese delegation, and her parents. [Photo by Cecily Liu/chinadaily.com.cn]


Such is the feeling of the first round of the IPSC in London on Thursday, known as the ‘heats’ round, attended by about 50 outstanding participants from 48 countries who came to London to compete. The competition is hosted by the London based non-profit organization English Speaking Union. 


“The competition presents a more relaxed atmosphere because it is held in small rooms where the speakers and audience are steps away from each other, compare to the China leg of the competition where speakers stand tall on a big stage and speak with microphones,” said Xia Peng, leader of the Chinese contestants’ delegation. 


Xia, who won both the competition himself in China and internationally in 2005, is an authoritative figure on the differences between the competition in China and London. 


“The closeness between the audience and speakers allow the speakers to push through their messages in a more communicative way, to create impact for the speech. Despite the relaxed atmosphere, the speakers are being scrutinized closely by the highest standards,” Xia said. 

Chen Mengzhu delivers her speech at the first round of the International Public Speaking Competition in London , May 12, 2016. [Photo by Cecily Liu/chinadaily.com.cn]


The heats round is participated by two winners of the China Daily organized 21st Century Coca-Cola Cup National English Speaking Competition this year. They are Wang Xiwen, 17, a high school student at Shanghai Foreign Language School, and Chen Mengzhu, 19, a second year student of New York University Shanghai.



The speakers for the heats round are divided into six groups of either eight or nine contestants, and each group will select three to go to the semi-final round on Friday. Each round is observed by an audience of about 50 people. 


For the heats, contestants each deliver a five minutes speech, followed by a question and answer period between three to four minutes. Each heat session is observed by a panel of three judges, who give the speakers a score out of 100 as the total, based on four criteria. The criteria are: Expression and Delivery (total score 35), Reasoning and Evidence (35), Organization and Prioritization (35), Listening and Response (15). 

罗里·基纳宁(Rory Kinane)是初赛中的一名评委,同时也是伦敦英国皇家国际事务研究所智库的项目经理。他表示,标准的清晰度对评委做出客观决定起到极大的帮助。

Rory Kinane, one of the judges at the heats round, who is also a program manager at the London think-tank Chatham House, said the clarity of the criteria greatly helps judges to make objective decisions. 


“Although judging speeches can be a subjective process, the criteria allow us to focus on specific things, like the speaker’s voice projection, the use of language in their speeches, and their attentiveness to audience’ questions. Watching out for these specific things allow us to make fair decisions,” said Kinane. 


Whilst each speaker is different, some mistakes could more frequently occur, and one example is the tendency for contestants to repeat their speech rather than properly answering the questions in the Q&A stage, Kinane said. 


For the heats, participants write their own speeches in response to an overall theme, set by the ESU. The heats theme this year is ‘The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any’.  


For example, Chen spoke about the importance of focusing on solutions to combat pollution, with a speech titled ‘The “Are” in the “Dare”’, and Wang delivered a speech on the importance of positive thinking, titled ‘She believed she would, so she did’. 



The final round of the speech will also be prepared speeches, with the theme being ‘Integrity has no need of rules’. 


Different from the heats and final round, contestants will be delivering impromptu speeches during the semi-final round.  Each speaker will be given a choice of three topics 15 minutes before their speech time. During the 15 minutes, they enter a quiet room where they can choose their topic and prepare their speech. 

Chen Mengzhu (second from left) is pictured in a photo with other international participants in London, May 12, 2016. [Photo by Cecily Liu/chinadaily.com.cn]


In the preparation process, they are not allowed to use any printed or electronic resources, although dictionaries and writing material are provided to them. Each impromptu speech is three minutes long. 

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