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.”

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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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The Honest Process – Questions to Keep You Going

This year, I'm feeling extremely privileged as I work with some new students who are actively pursuing what I like to call the "honest process." When I said those words to one of the moms, she asked, "What does that mean, exactly?" For me, the honest process is something original and organic and student driven. I'll reference some of the conversations I've had with students....

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Cross X Series #4: Keys to Undermining your Opponent’s Case by: Samuel Hand

CX designed to undermine your opponent’s case is a lot like CX designed to support your case, with two key differences: you don’t know what your opponent is running ahead of time, and the questions aren’t written beforehand (usually). Judging from these differences, you may think that you’re doomed to wait until you hear your opponent’s case and then pray you come up with something intelligent to ask… let me discourage this thinking. While you can have strokes of brilliance in the moment, just ​thinking​ a bit about the resolution can give an idea of what you might want to ask.

Much like I can’t tell you what questions to ask to support your debate cases specifically, I can’t know what your opponents are going to run. However, I can give you the keys (learned over the course of several years) to attacking your opponent’s case in CX.

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Cross X Series #3: Solidifying your own Case by: Samuel Hand

You have an inherent advantage when writing questions to build up your own case: you know exactly what you’re running in said case. This means that, with proper guidance, you can know exactly what to ask. While I can’t tell you which questions to write for your specific case, I can give you some principles which will hopefully make those questions much easier to formulate. Before I do, though, let me tell you what not to do.

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