Public speaking is a common human fear; right up there with the fear of death and creepy crawly things like spiders. But for Gloucester High School student, Elizabeth (Liz) Howarth, it's on her list of things she likes to do.
Perhaps that's why she had been killing it in Rotary's public speaking competition.
She took part in a competition against fellow student, Zeke Llewellyn at the Rotary Club of Gloucester's meeting on Tuesday, October 26. Both students were so impressive, they were given the opportunity to progress to the next stage, competing against the winner from the Taree cluster of Rotary.
Zeke was unable attend the Taree competition on Monday, November 4 at Club Taree due to prior commitments, but Liz made her way their, along with her support network.
GHS teacher Layne Ross is in charge of the public speaking and debating within the school and had reached out to Rotary about the competition. She travelled to Taree with Liz, along with her year adviser, Colleen Sorrensen and supportive teacher, Judy Ingram. The year 11 student faced off against a student from Manning Valley Anglican College and came out the winner. Liz has progressed to the next stage of competition against a group of other students from the District 9650 Rotary clubs in the coast region to take place in February.
According to Ms Ross, one of the main factors for her win was how she related the topic of her speech to the Rotary Four-Way Test.
"She did it explicitly in her speech," Ms Ross said. "It was also because of her engaging tone and voice projection."
The test asked four questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
For Liz, using these as guideline made her speech writing even more concise.
"It's a good tool to use when analysing a topic. It makes you think about different aspects of it," Liz said.
But really, her skill comes from her passion about the subject, and in this case, she choose to talk about the dangers of social media with today's youth.
I've always liked getting up and talking about the things I like and I'm passionate about a lot of things.Liz Howarth
"It's something personal to me. I've had experience with it while I've been in high school," Liz explained. "Not of a lot of people understand the negative side to using social media."
And when she says "people" she means her fellow students, having watched them change socially when given permission to use their devices freely at school.
Gloucester High introduced phone policy while she was in year eight that allowed students to bring mobile phones to school.
"Within a week I noticed a difference. People stopped talking to each other and there were more fights."
Being a part of the senior executive of the Student's Representative Council (SRC) and recently kicking off year 12, she's in a position to pass on her experience to the younger students.
As for her fondness for public speaking, she said she's enjoyed it ever since taking part in the public speaking competitions while in primary school.
"I've always liked getting up and talking about the things I like, and I'm passionate about a lot of things," she smiled.
After high school, Liz plans to undertake her Bachelor of Secondary teaching at the University of Newcastle, majoring in ancient history and legal studies. Gloucester High School is currently reviewing its mobile phone policy and has recently sent out a survey to the parents for feedback.