Meet the best young speaker from Asia
Sruthi Vijayachandran who was awarded the 'Best Young Speaker From Asia', shares her amazing experience at the competition, the honour to represent India and reflects upon the entire year-long journey.
Sruthi Vijayachandran hails from Coonoor, Tamil Nadu.
A postgraduate student, she has been awarded a scholarship to study MBA at the London School of Business Finance.
The announcement was made after she was awarded the first prize in the final of the Best Young Speaker from Asia competition held at Robinson College, University of Cambridge, UK.
The young achiever takes us through the competition process and shares her experience.
Premier baby steps
I was introduced to the Business English Certificate Exam course (offered by the University of Cambridge).
I decided to take it up, as a certificate from a leading university would add to my master's degree in Public Relations which I was pursuing at that time. I thought it would add value to my career. At that point of time, I didn't expect to come so far in the Best Young Speaker from Asia competition.
Climbing up the ladder
I scored 96/100 and was listed among the top 100 performers in the BEC exam in 2011. From there, I went on to the national level round which was held in Chennai.
This in itself was a big achievement for me. I was competing against the best from different Indian states. The biggest honour was to represent India.
The competition was huge considering the number of talented students from India. After winning that, I was shortlisted among the nine young students from across Asia to be flown to the United Kingdom to take part in the finals of the competition.
Please click NEXT to continue reading...
Image: Sruthi Vijayachandran
Photographs: Courtesy YouthIncMag
'I was asked about India's population, virtual classrooms and social networking'
Three deciding rounds on D-day
The first round of the finals required all contestants to give a five-minute prepared speech about the advantages and disadvantages of hosting the Olympics and how the Games could impact the economy of the host country positively or negatively.
In the second round, the contestants had to give an impromptu speech. Every contestant was given a different topic. I had to talk about the aspects involved in preparing for an interview and a job.
In the third round, we were asked three questions, to which we had to give one-minute responses. The three questions I was asked were about India's population, virtual classrooms and social networking.
The finals were held on my birthday! I was too nervous and terrified being on stage on the main day. I wasn't excited. I was, however, highly honoured to represent my country. I needed to think and be very attentive to be able to make my country proud.
The ability to speak any language well develops over time. For me, it came with practice and time. I would grab every opportunity that enhanced my language skills, be it reading the newspapers, watching movies or even giving a sudden vote-of-thanks speech after an event. I capitalised on every opportunity I got.
It helped me develop confidence. For the prepared speech that I had to deliver, I did rehearse it a couple of times.
This competition began a year back when I was in my second year of the PR master's course. It didn't take time away from the course, instead it helped keep the stress levels out of my course.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier
'Capitalise on every opportunity you get'
Awards and accolades
I was awarded the first prize in the final of the Best Young Speaker from Asia competition. And I was awarded a scholarship to study MBA at the London School of Business. I was given the opportunity to choose between two programmes: an MBA or an MSc in Finance.
The MBA is for a duration of 15 months. I would be taking that up later. (She also recently passed Cambridge English: Business Vantage (BEC) -- a high level business English qualification developed by Cambridge ESOL.)
On Cloud 9
Before the final results were going to be declared, we had a 15-minute break when one of the judges came upto me and told me that I was placed among the Top 3. I rejoiced!
Common errors while speaking English
- One of my friend/one of my teacher -- how can the friend/teacher be divided? It has to be one of my friends/teachers.
- Honest pronounced as 'h'onest
Tips for public speaking
- You can't speak rehearsed every time, nor do you always have the time to make prepared speeches. Grab every opportunity -- be it giving a sudden vote-of-thanks speech or compering for an event. It helps develop confidence.
- Push yourself. Don't worry if you make an error or say something irrelevant, mistakes are a part of learning.
- Capitalise on every opportunity you get.
I'll be pursuing a career in communications in the PR field. I have decided to take up the MBA scholarship later.
Message for the youth
Do what you love to do. Do your best at it.