About Us

About Us

Safe. Fun. Educational. These are the three tiers that make up our core teaching philosophy, with our students at the centre of each.

Central to our teaching philosophy is that students learn by doing. We keep our classes small to ensure every student has their turn, and receives extensive personal feedback.

As our founders know, can be hard to build the confidence to speak. We do our best to make sure every student is comfortable in their class to help them get over their fears.

The ability to speak in public is a lifelong skill. We do our best to ensure that each of our students learns something that they will carry with them for years to come.

Our Story

Speaking Schools Australasia began life as Sydney Speaking School back in 2014, and was founded in response to the lack of good quality education in public speaking and debating for school students on the North Shore of Sydney.  First opening its doors in January 2015 to a small group of less than 30 students in a single location, it has since expanded to help develop the communication skills of thousands of students across New South Wales, the ACT and abroad.

 

Using their combined skills honed through years of experience, the Speaking Schools Australasia team of experienced coaches bring excellence to the fore using fun and engaging courses targeted at improving the speaking skills of students of all ages across Australia and the world.

Meet our management team!

Mark Slaven

Managing Director – Australasia

Mark did not enjoy public speaking or debating throughout most of his schooling life.  A natural introvert, he found the concept of speaking in front of audiences daunting and, to be frank, a little bit scary.

 

This all changed around halfway through Year 9, when his mother forced him against his will to undertake a six-week intensive program at his school.  A few sessions in, Mark discovered not only that the world didn’t collapse every time he spoke in front of an audience, but that he genuinely enjoyed the rush of adrenaline he got every time he got up to speak.

 

From this epiphany exploded a love of public speaking, followed by drama and debating, which lead Mark to compete across countless tournaments, representing his school and then his university at national and international competitions (he has remained a life member of the Macquarie University Debating Society).  All throughout Mark also made sure not to hoard his newfound knowledge and passion to himself, but shared it as a tutor, coach and teacher in a range of forums throughout his (rather lengthy) time at university.

 

His passion also led him to become a lawyer, obtaining a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from Macquarie University, and a Master of Laws from ANU.  After spending a few years fighting the good fight at various law firms and as a Tipstaff to a Judge in the Land & Environment Court, Mark decided to apply the skills he learned throughout his legal career in a new forum.

 

Still an admitted solicitor in NSW, Mark now spends his time following his two passions – arguing, and teaching people how to argue better – as the Managing Director of Speaking Schools Australasia.

Elise Bohan

Operations Manager – Sydney

A highly experienced teacher and public speaker with a PhD in transhumanist ideas and technologies, Elise has shared a stage with a number of world leading academics and intellectuals. She has been an invited speaker at numerous Australian and international conferences, from the International Big History Association Research and Teaching Conference in Amsterdam in 2016, to the Australian Academy of the Humanities Annual Symposium in 2017 and 2019. Elise debated in High School, reaching the regional semi-finals of the Premier’s Debating Challenge. She also has close to a decades’ worth of experience teaching students of all ages and abilities in a range of subjects, including literacy skills and English as a Second Language, coding and robotics, and public speaking. Later this year, she will be a panellist at the NSW Writers Centre Speculative Fiction Festival.

 

In addition to her coaching responsibilities, Elise is the Operations Manager of Sydney Speaking School. She is passionate about education and is dedicated to the pursuit of helping young people stay competitive in a rapidly changing knowledge economy. Equally important is the cultivation of valuable life-skills, like strong written and verbal communication, which will stand students in good stead in every aspect of their lives.

Rob Barrie

Operations Manager – China

Rob is potentially the most experienced debater in Australia.  Having personally started the Western Sydney Debating Union, attended over 150 debating tournaments throughout his career, held the position of President of the Worlds Debating Council, and currently holding the position of Vice-President of the Australian Debating Council, he has devoted much of his tertiary education to the art debating.

This love for the sport has led to a number of successes, including breaking as a debater at the Australian and Australasian Debating Championships, winning the Commonwealth Debating Championships and judging the Grand Final of the Australian Championships, just to name a few.  Rob has also spend much of the past decade passing on his knowledge to the next generation, both as an adjudicator in basically every competition held in Sydney, and as a coach at a range of prestigious private schools.

 

In his (somewhat limited) spare time, Rob has also managed to complete his law degree at Western Sydney University, helped out with more Youth Parliament events than he can count and visited dozens of countries around the world.

 

With university finished and his feet finally touching the ground, Rob is keen to give back to the community that has given him so much, and would like nothing more than to pass his knowledge and experience onto the next generation of debaters, both in Australia and in China.

Mark Slaven

Managing Director – Australasia

Mark did not enjoy public speaking or debating throughout most of his schooling life.  A natural introvert, he found the concept of speaking in front of audiences daunting and, to be frank, a little bit scary.

 

This all changed around halfway through Year 9, when his mother forced him against his will to undertake a six-week intensive program at his school.  A few sessions in, Mark discovered not only that the world didn’t collapse every time he spoke in front of an audience, but that he genuinely enjoyed the rush of adrenaline he got every time he got up to speak.

 

From this epiphany exploded a love of public speaking, followed by drama and debating, which lead Mark to compete across countless tournaments, representing his school and then his university at national and international competitions (he has remained a life member of the Macquarie University Debating Society).  All throughout Mark also made sure not to hoard his newfound knowledge and passion to himself, but shared it as a tutor, coach and teacher in a range of forums throughout his (rather lengthy) time at university.

 

His passion also led him to become a lawyer, obtaining a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from Macquarie University, and a Master of Laws from ANU.  After spending a few years fighting the good fight at various law firms and as a Tipstaff to a Judge in the Land & Environment Court, Mark decided to apply the skills he learned throughout his legal career in a new forum.

 

Still an admitted solicitor in NSW, Mark now spends his time following his two passions – arguing, and teaching people how to argue better – as the Managing Director of Speaking Schools Australasia.

Elise Bohan

Operations Manager – Sydney

A highly experienced teacher and public speaker with a PhD in transhumanist ideas and technologies, Elise has shared a stage with a number of world leading academics and intellectuals. She has been an invited speaker at numerous Australian and international conferences, from the International Big History Association Research and Teaching Conference in Amsterdam in 2016, to the Australian Academy of the Humanities Annual Symposium in 2017 and 2019. Elise debated in High School, reaching the regional semi-finals of the Premier’s Debating Challenge. She also has close to a decades’ worth of experience teaching students of all ages and abilities in a range of subjects, including literacy skills and English as a Second Language, coding and robotics, and public speaking. Later this year, she will be a panellist at the NSW Writers Centre Speculative Fiction Festival.

 

In addition to her coaching responsibilities, Elise is the Operations Manager of Sydney Speaking School. She is passionate about education and is dedicated to the pursuit of helping young people stay competitive in a rapidly changing knowledge economy. Equally important is the cultivation of valuable life-skills, like strong written and verbal communication, which will stand students in good stead in every aspect of their lives.

Rob Barrie

Operations Manager – China

Rob is potentially the most experienced debater in Australia.  Having personally started the Western Sydney Debating Union, attended over 150 debating tournaments throughout his career, held the position of President of the Worlds Debating Council, and currently holding the position of Vice-President of the Australian Debating Council, he has devoted much of his tertiary education to the art debating.

This love for the sport has led to a number of successes, including breaking as a debater at the Australian and Australasian Debating Championships, winning the Commonwealth Debating Championships and judging the Grand Final of the Australian Championships, just to name a few.  Rob has also spend much of the past decade passing on his knowledge to the next generation, both as an adjudicator in basically every competition held in Sydney, and as a coach at a range of prestigious private schools.

 

In his (somewhat limited) spare time, Rob has also managed to complete his law degree at Western Sydney University, helped out with more Youth Parliament events than he can count and visited dozens of countries around the world.

 

With university finished and his feet finally touching the ground, Rob is keen to give back to the community that has given him so much, and would like nothing more than to pass his knowledge and experience onto the next generation of debaters, both in Australia and in China.