Platform Preparation Tips for Clubs

            This week a friend called.  She needed some ideas for her club kids who are working on platforms. They’ve discussed having a thesis.  They are writing, but there is not a lot beyond that to do with those speeches during club meetings right now.  Here are the ideas I shared with her to help kids build platform skills before they have a platform speech prepared:

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How to Get the Most from your Humorous Material

            Humor is important in communication.  Knowing how to use humor opens doors that no other skill can get through, BUT humor badly done is also worse than any other communication skill when it’s botched, so it’s awfully important to your ethos as a speaker to manage your humor well and mine all of its potential.

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Incorporating Humor in Speech and Debate

What is humor?

Humor happens in that luminous moment when two things don’t seem to be related at all, but then they come together in a way so unexpected that we laugh…or at least feel the delight of it.  It’s an insight that bubbles out: we feel joy when we see the connection or “get it.” That joy often comes out as laughter – delight escaping after the mental activity of making the connection.  

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A Challenge for those who attended Nationals…

During our Regional Championship tournament, I had a conversation with a student who said the most honest thing I’ve heard in a long while. I initiated the conversation because I work Communications at the tournaments and I could see the student was tense, frustrated, distressed even. When I asked about it, I got the usual response, “My speeches have gone so badly. I really wanted to do well so I could get to Nationals.” There is not a good response for this. I know all the correct things to say: Nationals isn’t the goal. You’ve grown so much. The trophies will fade. None of that matters in the moment of disappointment, so I said nothing and gave the student a hug. That was when it got real. Coming off that hug, the student said this:

“I want to be part of the friend group that goes to Nationals, and I’m not going to be… again.”

Continue reading “A Challenge for those who attended Nationals…”

How do I have Impact in my Speech?

This year, the ballot (at least in the NCFCA) has a specific category designated for the “impact” of the speech.  I’ve actually had several parents ask about that section, and many students are also scrambling to figure out the magic formula that makes an impact.  So, here are my thoughts on how you can do that in your speech as well as what you can watch for as a judge.

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Credibility Crash Course

Undoubtedly one or two things come to mind when you hear the word, credibility:  that guy who makes up sources for his extemp round, or that team that slices up their evidence cards so that they say what they want them to say instead of what the author actually said.  If that is the extent of your definition of credibility, you might need to stretch your understanding of the term.

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Oratorical Interpretation – It’s an INTERP!

I've thoroughly enjoyed seeing what's been done with Oratorical Interpretation this year. As I've said in previous articles, this is a great entry-level interp, a fabulous opportunity to study great rhetoric, and a very real creative outlet. What are my coaching take-aways after a couple of tournaments?

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How to Disguise Yourself – Tips from a Master

Last year, I taught a boys’ literature group that went through the canon of Sherlock Holmes stories. One of our lessons after reading many of the mysteries focused on Sherlock’s ability to assume masterful disguises – such that even his dearest friends failed to recognize him.  This skill enabled our sleuth to trail suspects, slip enemy traps, and observe without being observed. As we discussed his various techniques, it struck me that many of these tips also answer the questions I get every year about creating characterizations for interps. So…here’s how Sherlock does it:

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