Seeking speakers for World Speech Day

Massey speech writing lecturer Dr Heather Kavan in front of a screen showing Martin Luther King Jnr, one of the greatest orators of the 20th century.

World Speech Day is on 15 March. On that day, hundreds of people at different locations across the world will speak for two to three minutes on something they care about that would create a better world. For the first year ever, World Speech Day will be marked in New Zealand, and it will be held at Massey University, Palmerston North.

Dr Heather Kavan, senior lecturer in the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, would like to hear from people who are interested in speaking. 

“Anyone can speak – students or staff, experienced speakers or people who have never given a speech. The theme of World Speech Day is ‘unexpected voices’ and the event is an opportunity for anyone who has a positive message to shine.” 

Dr Kavan is especially keen to hear from lecturers and non-academic staff who want to share their ideas, and from university and secondary school students. “This is an all-day event, so we can arrange your speech to be at a time that suits you.”   

“The world would be a better place if...”

The speeches should be two to three minutes long and fit with the theme of “Thoughts for a better world”.  

“If you finish the sentence “The world would be a better place if...” you have your topic. For example, ‘The world would be a better place if we listened to more music’ or ‘The world would be a better place if we spent more time outdoors,’” Dr Kavan says.

“The important thing is to keep the subject positive. Also, make it a simple topic that you can talk about in two to three minutes and for no longer than five minutes.”  

Dr Kavan says the speeches have impact. “The international event is sponsored by the International New York Times, and in a previous World Speech Day speech, a 14-year-old school girl in Lagos gave a speech that went viral attracting a million hits on YouTube.”

World Speech Day events often begin with a quote to inspire people. The quote for New Zealand World Speech Day will be from Benjamin Mee in the film We bought a zoo. “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

“Many of us feel nervous when we give a speech, but the speech doesn’t have to be perfect. If your voice shakes, this just tells the audience that the message means a lot to you. And that’s exactly the type of speech that deserves to be heard,” Dr Kavan says.

Contact: Dr Heather Kavan by email ( or by telephone (06) 951 6969.


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