Image Upload

File size must be less than 2Mb

You must have online publishing permission or full ownership of this image

File types (jpg, png, gif)

  • Hero image
    PROUD: Kayan Barnes, with the support of Stawell Secondary College and Legacy, travelled to Adelaide for a national public speaking competition. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Kayan Barnes talking his way to the top

By Sean O’Connell

A Stawell Secondary College student has taken his gift of the gab to a national public speaking competition. 

Kayan Barnes, 14, participated in Legacy Junior Public Speaking Competition’s national finals in Adelaide, after finishing runner-up in Victoria. 

Kayan said it was not his first time talking in front of others, having previously participated in a Mandarin public speaking competition.

Article continues below

“It all began when one of my teachers was telling my friends about Legacy public speaking. I eavesdropped on their conversation, had a chat to the teacher and went to the meeting,” he said. 

Kayan said he progressed through a regional event to participate at the state competition in Melbourne, where he qualified for national level.

“I wrote my first speech about self-sacrifice,” he said.

“After that, it was bittersweet because I wasn’t able to use the same speech. I wrote one about mateship for which I got runner-up at state.

“We had to choose a topic based on Legacy’s values and those two really connected with me.”

Kayan said he was likely to draw on his experiences public speaking as he progressed through school and into the workforce.

“Obviously, I want to continue public speaking. People have told me I would be a good politician. Another job I would want to do is teaching,” he said.

“But one of my dream jobs is a stand-up comedian. I just like sharing my opinions with people. My friend group is on the passionate and argumentative side.”

Kayan said he was challenged to think on his feet during the competition. 

“We had a pre-planned, three-minute speech and a two-minute impromptu speech,” he said.

“You get given your topic five minutes beforehand for the two minute speech – mine were ‘15 minutes of fame’ and ‘boxes’, which was interesting.” 

Kayan said speakers from South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Western Australia attended the national event. 

“There were eight competitors with two from each state and they were all incredible,” he said.

“It was really interesting talking to them.

“There were people from all girls schools, private schools and my school is one with 400 people.” 

Kayan said his mother and Ballarat Legatee Allan McKinnon accompanied him to Adelaide, taking his first ever flight to get to the competition.

“The whole experience was fun,” he said. 

“I learned my ears get blocked when I fly. We also went on a dolphin and shipwreck cruise.”

Kayan, in year eight, said the competition was available for students in years seven, eight and nine. 

“I will be able to compete next year and I will be encouraging my friends to enter,” he said. 

“I’ve actually asked the teachers to set up a debate club.”

Teacher Lauren Barrie said she hoped other students would get on board. 

“I don’t think anyone expected Kayan to get this far,” she said. 

“We are all so proud of him – it’s amazing for Kayan and the school.”

The entire November 29, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 29, 2023 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!