The ESU International Public Speaking Competition 2019

The ESU International Public Speaking Competition, now in its 39th year, is the largest public speaking competition in the world, currently involving over one million students in more than fifty countries. The aim of the finals in London is to help young people to develop skills to become confident communicators and at the same time to encourage understanding and friendships that will last a lifetime. The IPSC 2019 achieved this for sure.

France was represented at the competition by Eve Bertevas, a pupil at the Lycée Joachim du Bellay in Angers. Eve was the winner of the NPSC which took place in Angers, 23rd March, organised jointly by the ESU Loire Valley branch, the Bibliothèque Anglophone, Angers, and the Maison de l’Europe, Angers.

Imagine what it must feel like to arrive at Dartmouth House as a teenager from abroad; to enter the impressive lobby with its panelled walls and ornate plasterwork; to climb the double staircase and to be led into an imposing room which is filling up with fifty other young people from around the globe, all of whom, like you, are there to compete against each other. This is what happens every year when the candidates arrive. It is a tribute to the staff at Dartmouth House and the team leaders that within two hours of meeting each other these young people are chatting and laughing together and exchanging ideas and stories relevant to their different backgrounds and cultures.

The competition ran from Monday 13th to Friday 17th May. The opening ceremony took place early evening Monday 13th. Following supper at Dartmouth House the participants were taken by their group leaders via the underground to their hotel. Tuesday and Wednesday are busy days when the candidates receive training in public speaking and debating skills from ESU mentors and performance experts at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. However, it isn’t all hard work. This year’s itinerary included a guided tour of the Globe Theatre, a sightseeing trip, a visit to the British Museum, an evening spent ten pin bowling and an evening performance of Aladdin at the Prince Edward Theatre.

The prepared speech heats took place during the morning of Thursday 16th. Eve was one of a group of eight contestants from Argentina, Mexico, Armenia, Romania, Hong Kong, France and two from China. All candidates spoke on the theme “A Lie has Speed, but Truth has Endurance”.

The impromptu speech heats followed on Thursday afternoon. For this round, the candidates are given a choice of three titles from which they select one on which to base a three minute speech. They are supervised during fifteen minutes preparation time with nothing but a dictionary to assist. One by one, they are ushered into the room to deliver their speech to the three judges in front of an audience of guests, family and friends.

The six finalists were announced on Friday morning: candidates from the Philippines, Australia, Lithuania, Spain, China (2)and Hong Kong. While other participants and guests relaxed over lunch these young people were busy practising their speeches before walking the short distance to the Royal Institution for the grand finals. The theme was “Nature is a Common Language”. The judging panel was chaired by BBC and ITN broadcaster, Jon Briggs, supported by Finia Kuhlmann and Amanda Moorghen. The candidates were all outstanding but there could only be one winner and one runner up. The winner was from Spain: Ennio Campoli Patak. The runner up was from Australia: Justin Lai, shown on the left. Congratulations to them both and indeed to all the contestants, all of whom were winners of their country competitions. The standard was simply amazing. It is an uplifting thought that the world will one day be in the hands of such bright and enthusiastic young people.

To take part in the competition students must be between 16 and 20 years old. Here in France, we would welcome more competitors, and more teachers, lycées and universities becoming involved. If you would like more details, please contact If you like working with young people and think you may be able to help with their training, please let us know. We would be delighted to welcome you on board the IPSC 2020.