The registration for the first ever HKSDPSC Junior Individuals Public Speaking Tournament on May 3rd at DGS is now open.

Register here by April 7th – all the details are on the registration site:


Check out the information powerpoint here:

WIDPSC workshop

There are 3 sections and students must complete all three on the day according to the schedule.

The three categories are: Persuasive Speaking, Interpretive Reading and Impromptu Speaking (outline below and in powerpoint).

Eligibility : Juniors – Years 7-10 (International Schools) / Forms 1-4 (Local Schools)


Venue : Diocesan Girls’ School

Cost: $100 per student

Limit: 5 students per school, although more places might be available after initial registration, depending on numbers. Schools can also register interest in entering more than 5 students during the initial rego phase.

Time : 9:00am to 5:00pm

9:00am registration

9:30 – 10:30 Round 1: Persuasive Speaking (Problem/solution speech 6-8 minutes long – speech should be memorised although one card of “notes” is permitted)

10:30 -10:45 Break

10:45 – 11:45 Round 2: Interpretive Reading (6-8 minute long extract from novel or poem – can be edited to suit – must be “read” not memorised)

11:45 – 12:00 Break

12:00 – 1:00 Round 3: Impromptu Speaking (3 minutes prep on unseen topic, then 3-5 minutes delivery).

1:00 – 1:30 Lunch (bring your own food and drinks on the day)

1:30 -2:00 Top 10 in each category and Overall top 10 announced, score sheets returned

2:00 – 3:30 Grand Performance Celebration of top 3 in each category performing their work. Note – if the same student comes top in more than one category, they will choose which ONE they perform, then their place in the other category “grand performance” will go to another student. No student will appear in the Grand Performance more than once.



Time Penalties. The times for the Persuasive Speech, Impromptu Speaking & Interpretive Reading are given as a range. There is a minimum and a maximum for each of these events, take note.

If you go below the minimum you will be unlikely to impress the judges.
if you go above the maximum, you will be penalised heavily. The penalties can make such a difference to your ranking that it is better to stop speaking if the clock has caught up with you than to try to finish as you had originally hoped.

Do not under-estimate the way that the pressure of actual competition can change the way you deliver – such as speed. Give a lot of attention to practicing your pieces to make sure that you not only can finish them in time but also so that you know where you should be when the final minute arrives.

It is useful to have sections at the end of a speech or reading passage that can be dropped without causing an abrupt dislocation in the flow if the time is against you. This way you can ensure that you still end with a deliberate and controlled statement.

If that seems too technical for a beginner, then just make sure that your pieces end well inside the limits.


Much of what you should/should not do is made explicit below but perhaps it is worth noting that when nervous and performing in public many of us start to make involuntary movements. Ask your Teacher/classmates to watch you perform and get them to tell you honestly if you are doing anything repetitively that could annoy/distract the judges. Running hands through hair is a particularly apt example. Moving around too much does not help. Excessive hand gestures can distract and the point of using them is lost.

Eye contact is the key to good public speaking and the single biggest problem in these events – in all 3 events you must be convincing – this is impossible and you will score low marks if you can not look the audience and judges in the eye and engage and persuade them. Aim to “fill the room” with your voice by standing still, projecting up and out loud and clear. Do not speak “to yourself”.


• Speeches are designed to persuade the audience about a serious, modern issue – however this does not mean that humour is excluded as it might help get points across.
• The speech should be in a problem-solution format not a political stance. The speaker must convince the audience that the problem exists and is significant. The presentation of valid solutions must be convincing and persuasive.
• One 5″ x 3″ cue-card may be used.
• Students must NOT read a speech word for word. The top speakers memorise their speeches, although this is not mandatory – careful use of the single cue card will be adequate.
• Each speech should be between 6-8 minutes long


We have found that HK students have been very good at this in international competition. Perhaps it is a reflection of our education system that we seem able to prepare well for this and deliver without much difficulty: we have done well in the World Champs in this event.

The things to look out for are:

Give the speech excellent structure – signpost and use reinforcement/catch phrases to help the judges/audience follow … but do not insult with a preachy-sermon type three P’s speech such as: “Today I will talk to you about Preparation, Planning and Performance, P-P-P…”

In other words, treat the judges as experienced, well-educated adults and give them something to think about. The purpose of the signposting is to prepare them for what comes, not to hold their hands.

Note that in this context, common, well-rehearsed topics are unlikely to catch the interest. It is better to go for something different. It is also good to have something that feeds from your own background as it makes sincerity or street credibility easier to achieve.

The formula for the speech must be problem-solution:

If you do not have a solution, your score will be low.
If the solution is incomplete, impractical or merely wishful thinking, your score will be low.
If the solution is not relevant to the judges/audience, your score will be low.

The balance can vary – it is explicit at the World Championships that there are no fixed proportions for the time given to the problem and the solution, but you need to make sure that the problem is fully explained, contextualised and made relevant before setting out on the solution.

The solution must address the problem as laid out and not venture off onto new ground.

Any style is acceptable as long as it matches the topic/enhances the delivery. In this respect, it is okay to use some humour to open minds before a serious point is made or to release tension after a climax, but the speech must not descend into jokes. You could make the judges laugh in that way but they would likely still give you a low score.

The use of cards for notes in the Persuasive Speech is the single most important item to be careful with. If you must use notes, keep them within the regulation size of one cue card: do not turn up with sheets of A4 paper or a stack of cards and expect to be able to use them for the speech.

Also, speeches without any notes tend to be more engaging for the judges.

However, rote learning and mechanical delivery should be avoided as well: you are trying to make the Judges listen to you and for that, a sense of sincerity must run through what you are saying.


The best guideline for scoring is to ask yourself how much you want this student to be a spokesperson for a cause that mattered a great deal to you, assuming that you had to have a high school student present the case.

A mark in the 90s means that you would be delighted to have this person as your advocate. Given that the only choice is a high school student, this is the one you would want to have.

A mark in the 80s means that you would be happy to have this student as your representative and your case is likely to succeed.

A mark in the 70s means that they will probably hurt your case.

A mark in the 60s means that your cause, however good, will be doomed with them arguing.


• Competitors read either a novel, short story or poetry of literary merit (young fiction like Harry Potter or the Twilight series is permitted). Can be serious or humorous
o Student authored stories in school publications or sample essays in workbooks are excluded.
o Material intended for children will be judged stringently as it is more simple and easier reading.
• The reading should not be a speech from a play or a dramatic monologue.
• Props may not be used but appropriate facial expression and gestures can be used.
• Key judging emphasis is on the reader’s use of voice not visual appearance.
• The piece should be 6 to 8 minutes (included up to a 1 min introduction) with penalties for going under or over time.
• The introduction should provide the context of reading and reasons for its choice. This should be a direct address to the audience, personal and informal
• A conclusion is optional whether it completes a narrative, leaves suspense or summarizes the ending. Most readings end on a well chosen dramatic moment.
NOTE: Students can edit a text to combine various parts of a story provided it reads as a coherent piece. This permits students to eliminate repetitive bits but include more dramatic bits in the time given.


This is the most underrated event and we have see too many candidates leave this until the last minute thinking that it would be easy. It is not.

Choose you passage wisely. You may use a book or poem/s, but not a dramatic monologue (ripped from a play/film script).

Do not overlook the importance of a proper introduction: you need to set the scene for the reading.

You may use a closing statement as well. This is rare but is definitely allowed and might make the difference for your performance.

Use a different tone, voice, volume, stance etc for the introduction and/or closing statement.

Do not read the introduction or closing statement from a card: you must try to make this part ‘live’.

Make sure that your voice projection is sufficient to bring out any emotions explicit or implied in the passage. In simple terms, be loud enough. This will require a strong voice and hence a lot of practice.

Eye-contact is essential: you need to look at the judges/audience while you are reading. This must not be a memorised speech though and you must also show appropriate glances at the text.

As a basic but essential point: the competition assumes language competence, so make sure that all words are checked for acceptable pronunciation.

For the Interpretive Reading, the following have been used in previous World Champs and are acceptable: a set of cards with passages stuck onto them (A4 size), folders, books. For the books, some candidates use a beautiful looking volume but have photocopies of a different passage, enlarged, placed inside. This is acceptable as long as bits and pieces neither hang out from the book or spill onto the floor.


The best guideline for scoring is to ask yourself whether, if you had to select a high school student to read the novel that you had just written and that the reading by the student was going to depend on whether your book was published by a major publishing house, this is the one you would pick.

A mark in the 90s means that you would be delighted to have this person as your representative reader and his or her reading would not only ensure that your book is published, but that it becomes a best seller as well.

A mark in the 80s means that you would be happy to have this student as the person to read your book, they would also ensure that you got the publishing deal and that your book was read by lots of people.

A mark in the 70s implies that the book had better be good because the reading is certainly not adding much.

A mark in the 60s indicates that people present will probably want to burn the book and you will never get a publishing house to print anything you have ever written by you.


• Every speaker has a choice of 3 topics (a word, a quotation or a phrase) which is stated after the speech.
• No notes or prepared material can be used.
• Speakers have 3 minute to prepare (notes can be written, but cannot be used when speaking)
• Speakers have 3-5 minutes to speak with a 15 seconds grace period – penalties will apply for far too under or some over time.
• The majority of the speech must be in first person although references to others may be made.
• Speakers may speak in favour, against, in favour and against, or simply about the topic. Wit, humour, philosophy, sentiment, agility of thought, organization are all welcome.
• Judges are ultimately looking for the ability of speakers to communicate with style and originality.
• It should be the sort of speech that would be delivered if the speaker were asked to speak at short notice to a general audience on the topic given.


This is a real challenge. The formula of ‘three minutes prep and five minutes delivery’ actually reverses the next hardest local competition and should give an idea of just how much more difficult the WIDPS event is to complete.

Try to give the speech some structure, possibly signposted at the beginning – this does not have to be too detailed but you should indicate that what follows will not just be a stream of consciousness ride.

However, do not fall into the habit of prepared openings that do not pick up and follow the outlined structure/prompts.

At recent World Champs there was a candidate who started with the opening:

“The topic of my speech today, XYZ, is of major importance to the contemporary world and is one which we should all take seriously. In this talk I will attempt to clarify this seriousness and illustrate with suitable examples. I am going to look at this in five distinct ways giving the economic, social, political, cultural and educational perspectives. I will begin with local considerations, move onto the international stage and then end with a personal reflection… ”

Not only was the same opening used by her team mate in an earlier round, she went on to speak for a rather short time and only covered one part of her plan, the personal reflection. Economics, society, politics, culture and education were all absent, locally and internationally, as she faded into a barely three minute speech.

There is an inherent tension with the Impromptu Speech in that we want to hear something genuinely fresh, unprepared, yet some structure often helps, and to get good structure you need to be confident of how to develop, which in turn comes from experience and past peformances. Perhaps the best way to consider this event is that as it is in the same competition as the fully prepared Persuasive Speech it should not sound like a miniaturised version of that.

Style? Any style whatsoever as long as it is suitable to the topic chosen. The wrong choice of style will likely come across like a bad joke, so be careful.

This means that you can take any position on the spectrum from deadly serious to belly-splitting funny. Experience shows that humour, when successful, works better than gravitas in open competition. So, if I were preparing now, I would try to keep parts of the speech light.

Indeed, the ability to take the audience on an interesting ride and reach somewhere meaningful by the end should be the ideal.

One way to achieve the above is to keep some suspense in the speech – do not stand and announce the topic, let the judges/audience try to guess where you are going. In this way, you will be more likely to engage them.


The best guideline for scoring is to ask yourself if this is the student you would want if you had to pick a high school student to speak to an audience with only a couple of minutes preparation and it was very important to you that the speech go well and have some good content.

A mark in the 90s means that you would be delighted to have this person speak. He or she will delight the audience with a seemingly professional speech. Afterward, people will wonder in disbelief if this was truly a high school student.

A mark in the 80s means that you would be happy to have this student as the speaker. He or she will be quite solid, but should not quit their day job.

A mark in the 70s means that you would be better off claiming that the scheduled speaker is unavailable.

A mark in the 60s means that your event will be a disaster with him or her speaking. 3-5 minutes of silence might be preferable.

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