Past participants of the Plain English Speaking Award

Travis Lines
Plain English Speaking Award
State Winner 2012

My first time at PESA was a complete accident. The student we were sending had decided to drop out last-minute, prompting my teacher to ask me to stand in for her because I “was the kid who wouldn’t shut up in class”. But what a happy accident it turned out to be! 

Each time I competed, I left absolutely astounded by the quality of the speakers. Nearly everyone I have met at PESA has been exceptionally bright, interesting and genuinely lovely.  Indeed, I even met one of my closest friends at PESA! 

Participating in PESA has helped me develop my communication skills and has even helped me earn a buck or two as a Public Speaking coach. Coming back each year to watch my students compete is an immense pleasure and never fails to make me proud as punch. I couldn’t recommend PESA more highly!


Ellie Jamonts
Plain English Speaking Award State
and National Winner 2011

My experiences with PESA have opened my ears and eyes, not to mention doors all around the world. The opportunity to meet other young people with strong opinions -- even if they differ from mine -- and to have an excellent forum to hear and to be heard in is as wonderful as it is rare.

You make friends for life, friends who don't mind the distance and are happy to see you, and to talk (and maybe even argue, just a little) whenever they can.

I've learnt so much, from the problems facing China as it develops to where to go in Belgium to get the best fries. I can't encourage anyone enough to give PESA a go.


Morgan Koegal
Plain English Speaking Award
State Winner 2009

When I competed in the Plain English Speaking Award in 2009 I was a relative novice to the world of competitive public speaking. I would have expected my lack of experience to disadvantage me against my competitors, but instead, I found myself engaged in a competition that celebrates communication over performance and talent over experience.

PESA gave me the opportunity to investigate a social justice issue I had always been interested in; capital punishment, and convey my passion to a wide range of people.

Furthermore, the impromptu section of the competition, although intimidating, allowed me to develop a set of skills I had never exercised previously, but have needed many times since. PESA is a great opportunity to develop public speaking skills in a friendly and supportive environment and I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it to any interested student.