PESA Victorian State Final

​Communicating with Australia’s deaf community and emotion taking over politics the standout speeches at this year’s Plain English Speaking Award state final.

Two government school students took out first and second place at the Plain English Speaking Award (PESA) 2019 State Final at the State Library Victoria.

An Dang and Oscar Pearce at the PESA Victorian State Final
An Dang and Oscar Pearce

An Dang from Brunswick Secondary College was adjudged winner with an impassioned speech about the deaf community's place in Australia.

An presented her speech in spoken word and Auslan - the Australian sign language - and was overjoyed to have won the competition.

‘I felt really lucky to be given this opportunity to speak my mind and talk about topics that are so meaningful to me,’ An says.

‘I have also gained experience by watching others talk about what is important to them.’

An says she used to be shy, but recently became interested in public speaking through school debates and the Model UN program.

‘I have slowly found my voice and uncovered a confidence I never knew I had,’ An says. ‘Coming to the PESA has assisted me in delving deeper into my passion for public speaking.

’An says Plain English is about being clear, concise and understood by people of all ages and backgrounds.

‘That is the magic of a Plain English speech,’ An says. ‘It brings everyone together and forms a mutual bond… and the audience gets to learn so much!’

Passionate and thought-provoking speeches

Oscar Pearce from Albert Park College was runner up with a speech which challenged the audience to consider how emotion has crept into politics.

For Oscar making it to the finals was an ‘awesome shock’.

Oscar first began public speaking when he signed up to his school debating team in Year 8. ‘Sure enough, I’ve been hooked ever since,’ Oscar says.

Oscar says it was ‘obvious choice’ to compete in the Plain English Speaking Award.

‘For me, it represented an exciting chance to talk about something I really cared about - politics, believe it or not,’ Oscar says.

Oscar says Plain English is about making sure a broad audience can understand your ideas. ‘Plain English speech … cuts to the chase,’ Oscar says. ‘It requires you to cut out the flowery language.’

How PESA works

PESA is a national public speaking competition for students aged 15-18 years and aims to build students' self-confidence while developing skills in oral communication, speech writing and research.

Competitions begin at a regional level across Victoria before students progress to a semi-final, then state and national final. The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority runs the Victorian competition.

Students who enter the PESA competition must deliver a prepared six-minute speech for regional and semi-finals.

Those who progress to the state and national finals must deliver an eight-minute speech, before having to present a three-minute speech on an impromptu topic for which they have four minutes to prepare.

The most important criteria is the effective use of plain English. Speeches are then judged on their preparation, subject matter, structure and delivery.

An will now progress to the national final and compete against other state winners from around the country. The winner of the national final is awarded a trip to London to compete in the International Public Speaking Competition.

Find out more about PESA.

Find out more about how An Dang and Oscar Pearce performed at the PESA Victorian state final.