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English-Speaking Union of Canada Public Speaking Tournament

  • Branksome Hall 10 Elm Avenue Toronto, ON, M4W 1N4 Canada (map)

Invitation to English-Speaking Union of Canada (ESU) Public Speaking Tournament

Dear OSDU Members, Coaches & Students, 

OSDU is happy to pass on the following public speaking tournament information from the English-Speaking Union of Canada:

“Dear Colleague,

On behalf of the English Speaking Union of Canada, I am pleased to present to you the 2016-2017 “HSBC National Public Speaking Competition” to be held on Wednesday 8 February 2017 in Toronto, Ontario at Branksome Hall. Each year, the ESU in London, England hosts the “International Public Speaking Competition”. Canada has been invited to select one competitor for the event which will take place May 8-12, 2017. You can look at the tournament’s website located at:

There is a tournament handbook which is now online for the 2017 competition and can be accessed here:

The competition in England requires competitors to deliver a five-minute speech on a given theme. The theme for the 2017 international competition in England is “To define is to limit”. However, we may not use this theme for our national tournament, but instead must use the theme “Peace is not an absence of war”. Students will deliver a speech on “Peace is not an absence of war” at our national tournament, and, if successful in advancing to the International competition, must deliver a speech on “To define is to limit”. This is a rule that all countries must follow. When writing a speech, speakers may interpret the theme in any way they see fit, but they should not use the theme as their title. In choosing their title, speakers should not be afraid to be provocative, hard-hitting or humorous, as long as their intention is constructive and the speech is not offensive to other parties present. Speakers must avoid speeches that are likely to be perceived as doctrinal or political.

In order to be eligible, students, according to the ESU rules, must be between 16 and 20 years of age, and in full time education, at the time of the competition in England (i.e. May 8th, 2017) and the registration fee will be £180. The judging criteria is not any different from other public speaking events with which we are familiar, and the detailed criteria can be found in the handbook online on the QSDA site. In order to register, please fill out this form.


The qualifying tournament will have two rounds. Each student will deliver his/her five-minute speech twice, to a separate panel of judges. The top five students will then be selected for a final round, and the top student will be selected based solely on the final round’s judging. 

The tournament will take place at Branksome Hall, 11 Elm Ave, Toronto Ontario. If you are travelling from out of town, please contact Grace Nolan at for hotel recommendations.


The tentative schedule for the tournament is as follows: 
Registration and Refreshments                    4:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Judge’s and Competitor’s Briefing               4:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Round 1                                                          4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Round 2                                                          5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Dinner                                                             6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Finals                                                              7:30 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
Awards                                                           8:15 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Team Cap:

This public speaking tournament open is open to any school in Canada, and to first year CEGEP students. However, we are placing an initial limit of TWO students per school, as well as a maximum of 30 competitors. We may be able to accommodate more students per school, more local students, etc. depending on registration, and if so will be in touch after the initial registration deadline of 15 January 2017. Each school must provide one judge per two students. Kindly note that there is a rule in place requiring that students not participate in school uniform to maintain anonymity of competitors.

The top student who is selected will receive an ESU Canada travel bursary of $1000, to be used towards the travel costs of competing in the event in England. Please note that this travel bursary is not prize money. It can only be used towards the cost of attendance in England, and will not be paid out until the plane ticket has been purchased, and a copy submitted to ESU Canada. The competitor will also need to pay to the London organizers, the registration fee, which was 160 British Pounds last year. (this includes accommodation, activities and some meals)

Registration Fee:

The registration fee for this tournament is $70 per student, payable to “Branksome Hall”. The fees will cover refreshments upon arrival, and dinner. The initial deadline for registration is 15 January 2017. Please contact me by email with all details. 

It is our hope that your school will be able to participate in this prestigious tournament. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.


Grace Nolan
Phone: 416-926-1326 ext. 1458

INVITATION: 2017 ESU Public Speaking Tournament