On Monday 15th March the Political Studies Association celebrated World Speech Day by hosting our Student Political Speech Competition Live Finals. Our competition was co-hosted with the University of East Anglia, Future Leaders. 

Covid-19 has popped reality as we know it and 'Humanity is at a crossroad' as to how we go from here. The voices of young people are critical to shaping the future. It is important, in a democratic society, that people can communicate what they think, want or believe. But it’s not enough simply to be able to communicate. People should put forward their views and experiences in ways that are clear, engaging and interesting so that the people listening are able to decide whether they agree or disagree. The growth of sound-bites, spin, talking points (and too many bad or dishonest speeches) has made people suspicious of public and political speeches – or just bored. Yet great speeches do more than just talk about the world. They change it by giving people new ways to think about things and good reasons to act.

Each year our competition dares students to speak up on political issues important to them. This year's top-ten students spoke up on a variety of issues including human freedoms, fake news, and the lessons we can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic and how we can apply the policy outcomes to climate change. After their initial speech-pitches peaked our interest, our top-ten worked closely with mentors to develop their talks and learn more about the power of speech making. We would like to thank all our mentors for their commitment to our competition. Thank you Simon Gibson (Founder of World Speech Day), Alice Elliot (Speechwriter), Alan Barker (European Speechwriter Network), Professor Alan Finlayson (University of East Anglia), Jen Llyod (Communications & Marketing for Employability at UEA), Mike Maunsell (Lecturer in Science Communication & Presentation), and Rebecca Rothwell (Professional Member of SfEP). Learn more about our mentors here.

Our competition judges were blown away with the quality of speeches submitted this year and the decision-making procress was not an easy one! We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our competition judges, Simon Lancaster (Bespoke Speechwriting), Philip Collins (Columnist on the New Statesman & the Evening Standard), Rebecca Deegan (Founder and Director of I Have a Voice). Learn more about our judges here.

Congratulations to our competition winner Laila Shah (University of Bristol). Watch Laila's winning speech on the repatriation of colonial cultural artefacts below. 

Second place was awarded to Hal Meakin (Brunel University London) speaking on workers rights in a post-Covid world and in third place Nahidah Khan (SOAS University London) discussing the importance of political literacy education for young people. This year's competition also incorporated a public vote, to get students campaigning and raising awareness on their political issue. The student with the highest proportion of the public vote was Zohra Shamim, speaking on the ongoing sexual violence against women in Kashmir.

None of this could be achieved without the hard work of Beth Derks-van Damme, leader of the Future Leaders project in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication at the University of East Anglia. 

Did you miss our live event? Watch the full recording below. Our Student Political Speech Competition gets bigger and better every year! In the Autumn of 2021 we will announce the call for entrants, to next year's competition. For now, if you want to learn more about political speech making, check out our competition hub.