Stacked up against 86 of the world’s finest speakers, Matt Lloyd-Thomas ’12, Co-President of the Philomathean Society (Philo), debated, persuaded and acted his way to the impressive title of 18th best teenage speaker in the world.
Lloyd-Thomas claimed this finish in this year’s World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship (WIDPSC), an event in which debaters between the ages of 16 and 18 represented their respective countries in a series of public speaking tournaments held in Brisbane, Australia.
The debate tournament was comprised of four events: impromptu speaking, persuasive speaking, debate and interpretive reading. Each event was weighted equally.
Lloyd-Thomas competed as a member of the team representing the United States, but each competitor was ranked individually. Several other debaters from the Hotchkiss School, Deerfield Academy, Choate Rosemary Hall and St. Paul’s School also qualified for the American team.
In 18th place, Lloyd-Thomas was the second highest-scoring American.
Priyanka Sekhar ’14 of the Hotchkiss School placed first on the American team and seventh in the overall competition.
To prepare for the event, Lloyd-Thomas trained with Bob Hutchins, a speech coach at the Pike School in Andover, MA. Hutchins works with the Philo on a regular basis, according to Lloyd-Thomas.
At the competition, Lloyd-Thomas debated against his competitors on the topics of beauty contests and trying juvenile offenders of violent crime as adults.
He gave impromptu speeches on diplomacy and the importance of exercise, and his persuasive speech argued the importance of an education in the humanities.
For his interpretive reading, Lloyd-Thomas chose to articulate the final four pages of Ralph Ellison’s “The Invisible Man.” Lloyd-Thomas chose this reading after hearing the piece in an English class taught by David Fox, Instructor in English.
Lloyd-Thomas said that he thought the interpretive reading was the hardest part of the entire tournament because it is a lot like acting, a skill rarely used in Philo debates.
Although WIDPSC is a global tournament, all debates were held in English.
Lloyd-Thomas was pleased with the results of the tournament and hopeful for the future of his debating career.
“After seeing the level of competition, I was more than happy to be 18th,” he said. “But of course there’s always room to improve.”
Haonan Li ’13 originally qualified for the event after tying for first with Lloyd-Thomas in the Loomis Chaffee Debate Tournament on January 15, the winner of which would qualify for WIDPSC. Because of Li’s higher initial ranking, he received the invitation to the WIDPSC.
However, Li decided to forgo attending the event because he didn’t want to fall behind on his schoolwork after missing the first week of Upper Spring. Lloyd-Thomas said that he did not anticipate the debate tournament getting in the way of his Senior Spring workload.