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Posted On: 3 April 2015 06:57 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:15 pm

Students flock to compete in 18th Qatar Open: Youth Public Speaking Championship

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Participants and teachers seen with Qatar Toastmasters club officials

The first round of the 18th Qatar Open: Youth Public Speaking Championship saw a cross section of Qatar’s high school students speaking on the topic “The best investment you can make is in yourself”. The Qatar Open is a nationwide public speaking contest organized by Qatar Toastmasters Club for students aged between 13 – 18 years. The prelims were hosted at Birla Public School.

Qatar Toastmasters Club is affiliated to Toastmasters International, the leading worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to communication and leadership skills development. Headquartered in the US, the organization has clubs in over 120 countries including over 45 clubs in Qatar. Toastmasters’ mission is to empower people to find the courage to change, achieve their full potential, and realise the ultimate mission of contributing to the betterment of the society.

“Qatar Open is one of the main ways Qatar Toastmasters gives back to the local community,” notes Rukhsana Khan, President of Qatar Toastmasters Club and Chairperson of the Sponsorship Committee, “This event is fully aligned with the principles and national strategy embodied in the Qatar National Vision 2030. By providing a platform for confident self-expression, it unlocks human potential. Public speaking empowers the students to achieve their aspirations and equips them with vital skills to contribute to society. At QTM we believe we are training today’s youth in Qatar to face the communication and leadership challenges of tomorrow.”

Qatar Open Chairperson, Nevine Kamel, said: “This year there was tremendous response particularly from leading independent schools and international schools. The top 10 schools which sent the most students were Birla Public School, Michael E. DeBakey High School, DPS Modern Indian School, American School of Doha, the Lebanese School, Ibn Khaldoun Preparatory Independent School for Boys, Doha Modern Indian School, M.E.S. Indian School, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Preparatory School and Doha College”.

Since there were many first timers taking part Qatar Toastmasters Club conducted a free workshop hosted at Doha College and facilitated by Nevine Kamel who herself is a freelance trainer and HR consultant. The students benefitted from the expert training on the basics of public speaking, types of speeches, and the judging criteria that they would need to consider while writing their speeches.

Kamel said “The workshop is an added feature of Qatar Open to ensure that all competing students have access to the same information needed to start their journey towards the coveted title of “Qatar Open - Youth Public Speaking Champion”. The workshop was very well-received by students, parents and teachers who found it very useful and informative.”

At the prelims event Nevine Kamel briefed the participants about the rules and regulations of the contest. The briefing was followed by a motivational address by Rukhsana Khan who highlighted that their decision to participate was a reflection of the contest theme: The best investment you can make is in yourself.

Over 140 had students registered online for the contest. A good number came forward to take their first step towards championship victory. The contestants were divided in 7 groups each with a dedicated panel of seasoned judges from toastmaster clubs across the country. The top 5 contestants from each group made the cut to proceed to the semi-finals. Competition was stiff but the young orators impressed the judges with their inspiring speeches. One of the judges commented, “We were surprised to see the level of competency in the first timers and judging them was not an easy job.” From the prelims 35 participants were picked to proceed to the semi-final round which will take place on 17th April. The top 10 from the semifinals will qualify for the final round on 8th May at CNA-Q.

Participants and parents alike praised the way the contest was organized and remarked how much they enjoyed it. One parent described it as “an excellent experience for the child”and participants acknowledged it as “one of the biggest contests in Qatar”. Many participants acknowledged the contest as an effective way of overcoming stage fear. Bilal Ahmed, a student at DeBakey High School observed, “Public speaking is one thing that many people are afraid of – crowds and stuff like that. If you build on that at a young age then you won’t face challenges when you’re older.”

Participants and teachers also emphasized the value of public speaking as a means of increasing self confidence. Majda Tamimi, a teacher at DeBakey High School, said,” it increases their confidence and their public speaking skills which is so important nowadays. Especially the world has become so small, people are living everywhere, so for them to be encouraged, to be able to speak in front of people, of all kinds, from everywhere in the world, I think it’s very important.”

The event was coordinated by dedicated members of Qatar Toastmasters Club and other toastmaster clubs who support one another in true toastmasters’ spirit. Khan expressed that the sense of satisfaction which volunteers get, proves the club’s tagline “When you give…you get much more.”

Representatives from the Platinum Sponsor Vodafone Qatar mingled with contestants and their families. “A communication giant supporting a communication championship: what more could we ask?” said Khan, “We are deeply grateful to Vodafone Qatar, also to our Silver Sponsor Qatar Luxury Company, and all our loyal sponsors. Their support is what keeps us going,” she added.

She acknowledged Bronze Sponsors Intertec Group, ApplusVelosi, 3M, Kentz, Rumaillah Group, Doha Bank, Dyarco Intercol Management Services and Jungle Zone, Support Sponsors Dandy, Qbake, Amadeus and Qatar-UAE Exchange, Online Partner, and Official Media Sponsor Gulf Times.

The semi-final round on 17th April will take place at Birla Public School and the Grand Finale on 8th May at the College of the North Atlantic - Qatar.

Kamel extended an open invitation: “Seats are limited but anyone interested to witness the exceptional youngsters enthrall their audience with their oratory skills can write to us at [email protected] to reserve a seat. It will be a night to remember.”