Speaking in public is a skill mastered by few and feared by many. Here, four pupil speakers at John Lyon’s recent Talks-on-the-Hill lecture series, reflect on their experience.
Talks-on-the-Hill is an annual evening of lectures in which pupils, teachers, parents and invited external subject experts come together to speak on and around a single topic. 2020’s event focused on The Body and saw four pupils joined by a respected professor of immunology, a world-renowned artist and a John Lyon teacher on stage, in front of an audience of 150.
Here, the pupils reflect on their experiences of standing up and speaking in public.
Harjeevan Bains, Year 7 pupil
I spoke about why we are all ‘superhuman’, which is beyond the Hollywood definition involving fancy costumes and gadgets. I explained that our brains are important for us being so special, having done research into a range of topics showed that our brains have given us the ability to do things that other species cannot.
I felt that speaking at Talks-on-the-Hill was a great experience, but I initially found it to be quite daunting. I built up my confidence by researching the topics and got lots of encouragement from my teachers. On the night itself I remember being very nervous, especially when first sitting on the stage, however I became much more relaxed as I presented what I had practiced – and telling some jokes helped a lot. I would recommend an opportunity like this to everyone who would like to improve their public speaking.
Madisan Nimalathasan, Year 7 pupil
Talks-on-the-Hill was a very overwhelming experience. Research for the talk was the most challenging part, as I needed to find trustworthy sources and check if they were accurate. Practising was slightly easier, as I know from previous experience that I can project my voice. Delivering the talk was the hardest part, as my heart was not pounding, but aching, as I did not want to mess up in front of the school and the public.
What helped me to get through is the knowledge that if I have seen people my age do it, why can’t I do it? What makes me different? Then I thought that, as he can do it, I can do it. The voice inside my head saying I can do it, helped me go through the talk. I would strongly encourage pupils to do these type of events at John Lyon, as this school gives fantastic opportunities other schools don’t.
Rayyan Hussain, Lower Sixth student
This event was remarkable! I got to talk on a topic I am very keen on: natural remedies and their incredible effects on the body, drawing links to diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s, and how we may need to resort to them due to the rise in antibiotic resistance.
As I grabbed the microphone on the stage it felt silent but that later turned into laughs and joy as I began to connect and engage with the audience. The talk was incredible and I hope this event grants me more opportunities in the future, in both the academic and public sector.
Rafay Raja, Year 7 pupil
Talks-on-the-Hill was a great experience. It made my confidence grow and my public speaking stronger and better. At the beginning, it was frightening to stand up on the stage as it was my first time, but once I started speaking, the words just came out without any effort. I thought I would do something wrong, but it was all just fine.
When I was practicing I had to make multiple changes like amending the phrasing of the jokes and the way I presented the talk. It was also great as the School opened the evening to everyone, even to the public. I would recommend students try giving talks like this as this is a very amazing opportunity to experience.