Help! I don’t know how to judge an Interp speech!

I am actually privy to this sentiment fairly often.  Parents mostly know what they like best when they watch interps.  They might even know why they liked it best over some other interp. But they want to know how to say that articulately to the students on the ballot.  The point of this post is NOT to tell you what should rank higher than something else but to help you identify the bits and pieces that are part of any interp…bits and pieces that you can talk about from your own perspective on your ballots, giving students bits and pieces they can actually work on after the tournament. I was recently in a club meeting where the leader asked the students to share the most helpful comment they had received on a ballot.  The students struggled to find one.  I want students to have LOTS of helpful, useable things.  Things they can take to club and say, “can someone show me how to ___________?” Or “can someone help me change ___________?”  I want things filling in those blanks for our kids!

So here goes….How DO you look at an interp speech?

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The Biggest Mistakes I See Students Make in Interp Speeches

I’ve been at this a LONG time – teaching students how to manage the interpretive speech.  It is definitely a purist endeavor that relies on the student alone to create the entire context suggested by a reduced segment of a piece of literature.  There is nothing easy about it.  When it’s done well, it really works.  As students strive to reach that mark, I find that they make the same basic mistakes along the way, and these fall into two basic categories: technical mistakes and ownership mistakes.  Let me explain….

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Kristie breaks it down – What makes cutting soooooo hard?

If you ever tried to take on the task of cutting a story of any length at all down to a ten-minute “cut” for presentation, you’ve tasted the difficulty of the effort.  It’s HARD.  The longer the story and the more you love it, the harder it is.  Why is that?  What makes cutting such a difficult undertaking, and how do you know when you’ve got it right?

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Biblical Thematic – Notebook Woes

Let's face it...the small binder required with a Biblical Thematic speech is HARD to use smoothly, creatively, and effectively! It's the reason that many skilled interpers give this event a pass. Let me challenge you to think hard about trying this event - notebook notwithstanding - for its very real academic and presentation value. To help, here are some ways to think about your binder and how it can enhance a thematic speech.

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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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