Mastering the skills of public speaking is an asset that sets the tone for success. In this era where people tend to be keyboard warriors, rather than eloquent orators, providing a platform to voice opinions may seem daunting yet refreshing.
To engage students who may be feeling socially awkward, having to return to campus after some time of comfort behind the screens, and more importantly, to encourage the youths of today to share their thoughts on pressing topics that include education, society, culture, health, technology, environment and, personal values, a speech competition was conceived as a mean to increase the student experience.
Public speaking skills not only help individuals articulate their thoughts and ideas clearly but also allow them to connect with their audience on a deeper level. It is also directly linked to confidence and would help healthcare professionals to effectively communicate, leading to better collaboration, stronger relationships, and greater success in all aspects of life.
Taking the lead was the Centre for Bioethics and Humanities, International Medical University which launched the first-ever Magna Prima Uno Slay, a competition focusing on public speaking. “Slay” in Gen Z’s language refers to “good job” and as the title suggests, the competition sought to recognise one student who stands first among peers for possessing great knowledge and skills in oration.
The MPU Slay is planned to run three times a year, with the first round being in March of 2023. At the inaugural MPU Slay competition, the Director of the Centre for Bioethics and Humanities (CBH), A/Prof Dr Sheba D Mani gave an inspiring speech that encouraged the participants to approach the competition with an open mind and be ready to consider multiple perspectives in their arguments. She reminded them that the real value of the competition is not in winning or losing, but in the journey, the process of self-discovery, and the opportunity to develop and refine public speaking skills. Three judges were invited to evaluate the participants: Dr Jaiprakash Mohanraj a keen debater in his university days, Carol Chin a literature graduate, and Anita Wong a a former Toastmasters member.
The competition was no easy feat as participants first had to present a prepared speech after which those who were short-listed had to present impromptu speeches. The person to eventually emerge as the winner was S Piratiba from ME123. Piratiba recounts that the MPU Slay competition was a very memorable experience, especially since she had just joined IMU and was not too familiar with the people or the place.
Drawing from the General Studies courses also known as MPU, that the CBH offers, Piratiba was able to use the knowledge of the holistic and humanistic view of medicine that the courses exposed her to, to speak on the links between science and the humanities.
From the Arts Appreciation module, which guided her to focus on understanding the human experience and finding creative ways to articulate the many aspects that it is related to, Piratiba was able to prepare a speech for the first round of the competition. She argued whether being rich would be better than being influential. In her inspiring speech, she focused on global issues such as climate change and societal concerns, and how the power of human influence would be able to change the world for the better in ways that money would not be able to.
Another MPU module Piratiba enrolled in was the Philosophy and Current Issues module. She learnt analytical skills that came in handy when she had to give an impromptu speech topic in the second round of the competition. She expounded on the topic of the future of Generation Z by breaking down the argument and putting together coherent points. The speech, which centered around the agency that youth today have in speaking up and voicing their opinions through various platforms, was able to capture the attention of the audience and provide them with interesting new information.
Piratiba as the inaugural winner found the competition rewarding on a wider level as she was struck by the diverse range of topics and perspectives the other participants brought to the competition. Some were confident and charismatic, while others were more reserved but spoke with deep conviction.
The MPU Slay Competition was a huge success, it was more than just a competition; it was an educational platform that challenged students to think critically, and showcase their problem-solving skills, communication, and analytical thinking skills. The spirit of camaraderie was evident as even though the participants were all working towards the same outcome, they still cheered each on. It was an event that brought together the best and brightest from IMU and left everyone in attendance feeling energized and inspired to develop personal and professional milestones in their academic lives and future endeavors.
The MPU Slay will be organised again in August and October 2023. If you are interested, do contact [email protected]
Written by A/Prof Dr Sheba D Mani and S Piratiba (ME123)