News ≫ Sri Lankan Emerges A Finalist At A Public Speaking Contest Held In London

Sri Lankan Emerges A Finalist At A Public Speaking Contest Held In London

Jun 15, 2016
Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Email
At 16, Devni Wanigaarachchi has achieved quite a large feat at a very young age. Having won the National Public Speaking competition organized by the English Speaking Union of Sri Lanka, Devni represented Sri Lanka at the International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC) organized by the English Speaking Union of London. Competing with over 56 participants across 49 countries and after three strenuous rounds of rivalry, Devni emerged as a finalist in the competition. For her achievements on an international platform, Devni was also felicitated by the Sri Lanka High Commission in London by the Acting High Commissioner. Today, Devni speaks to us about what motivates and drives her passion for public speaking; You recently became a finalist at the International Public Speaking Competition held in London – how was it? Well, it was an incredible experience! I had approximately one month to prepare for the international arena and I had to dedicate a lot of time and strength and do a lot of hard work to become a finalist. When I left Sri Lanka to go to London, I had the motive to bring glory to mother Lanka and my school and during the competition, I knew I had to win and that’s what kept me going forward. You competed with other contestants from nearly 50 countries – was it tough, especially being the youngest participant? Of course it was a tough competition. All of the participants were equally talented and were national public speaking winners of their respective country. Everyone was just so determined and enthusiastic about what they were doing! Despite all of that, I really didn’t let the fact that I was the youngest make me feel like I’m at a disadvantage in the competition. For me, it was an opportunity to surround myself with people who would just only challenge me further. At the end of the day, more than the victory or the win, it’s really the challenges that you overcome that make you a stronger person. When did you get into public speaking? My love for public speaking started in the classroom. Then I gave speeches in front of my mother and her inspiration and encouragement made me take part in competitions such as Toastmasters, AIBS and CJS. The oratory skills I got from the Drama Circle at school also gave me a push in improving my public speaking skills. This prompted our school principal, Mrs. S. Dandeniya of Musaeus College, to give me an opportunity to give a speech for the 125th birthday of our school which honestly was a catalyst that made me realize that I truly loved public speaking so there is a lot of gratitude to my principal, deputy principal and teachers. How do you train and motivate yourself? For most of the competitions I had a lot of help from my teachers. Plus the limitless opportunities that school gave me helped me to train myself as a speaker. But of course, training is not enough to go onstage. You need a lot of motivation. For me a lot of my confidence came from being a Sri Lankan and a Musaeuite. Sri Lankan because the power of the roar of our lions gives me confidence and as a Musaeuite I’m always motivated to follow the light no matter how severe the challenge is. I’ve learnt to pick myself up, brush it off and push myself forward. Your topic in the final round was ‘Integrity has no need of rules’. What inspired your speech? Yes, I picked the topic ‘Grab it’. Well, there are a lot people asking each to work with integrity; stop cheating, stop stealing, stop lying. But most of the time they fail to teach others ways to work with integrity. In my speech I gave my audience 3 ways to work with strong moral principles and honesty, how to be authentic, maintain discipline and to honour your word. I told my audience ways to grab integrity and I told them to choose. We all have a choice to follow integrity or not. Maybe the whole world is lying but we can choose not to become a liar, maybe the whole world is stealing but we can choose not to become a thief. So at the end of the day you have 3 ways, you can chose one and it’s up to you to grab it! If you were given the option of speaking about any topic you want, what would you pick and why? I think I would like to talk about self-affirmation which is the secret of positive thinking. Muhammed Ali’s self-affirmation was ‘I’m the Greatest’ and Richard Branson’s was ‘Never Give Up’. This topic is important to me because today I can see most of our youth is being cornered and isolated due to a lack of resources they have to achieve their goals. But self-affirmation is something that can drive them forward amidst all these obstacles. It will help you realize who you are and what you stand for and that is why I’d love to talk about it. Where do you see yourself next? I guess I plan to take part in as many competitions as I can to mould my public speaking skills. I’d love to bring pride and glory to Sri Lanka and my school in the international arena using my oratory skills. By Panchali Illankoon

Latest News