The biggest question students ask themselves as the summer weeks wind towards another academic year is: what should I write my speeches about? Parents ask themselves: how do I help my students decide what they should write their speeches on? Each feels the gravity of answering that question too soon, too late, incorrectly, insufficiently, etc. An ambitious student may average three speeches a year for six years, resulting in a grand total of eighteen platform and interpretative opportunities… but this number can feel paltry when there are so many books to dramatize, subjects to explore, and ideas that need to be addressed!
Most speech and debate organizations will offer coaching deals just before regional and national level tournaments, recognizing that students want to put finishing touches on their delivery and pieces. I would argue, however, that the most influential type of coaching sessions take place long before a speech is memorized and a tournament deadline is rushing upon the student. The benefit of coaching sessions later in the year are dependent on the work that occurs at the beginning of the year.
What is a brainstorming coaching session?
Each coach will work towards the objective with a slightly different methodology. I believe the Socratic method is the most effective because it always gets the competitor talking, is completely customizable, and thoroughly probes the viability of every idea. Regardless of method, the coach’s goal is consistent: help students discover themselves, set goals, and start the speech and debate season with an energized and positive attitude. Let’s get into the benefits!
1. Love Your Ideas and Outlines
Every competitor has written a speech that was just okay. Sure, the topic was interesting and the speech was organized, but it didn’t sparkle. Warmth didn’t rush to the cheeks when opportunities arose to dialogue about the subject matter at a deeper level. The fourth tournament wasn’t another exciting opportunity to share. These roadblocks usually originate from taking shortcuts and hitting speech-writers’ block back during the brainstorming season, which is why they should be remedied as that season begins (which is right now, by the way, not two weeks before a qualifier).
A brainstorming coaching session unlocks the layers of your interests and passions, which is critical for platform events. To prepare an excellent platform speech, you first need to find out what you couldn’t care less about, what you find mildly interesting, and what makes your heart soar. Everyone starts the season in a unique spot along the topic-discovery timeline. If you have ten ideas, it’s time to work through various directions those ideas could take, sketch potential outlines, and find research materials. Feel hopelessly uninspired even during your brainstorming session? Please don’t worry. Your coach can always provide the ideas they never got to write a speech about with directed research and outlines. There is a speech that needs to be written and loved by you. Our job is to help you discover it.
2. Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
As your discussion progresses from ideas to implementation, your coach will be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a speaker. You can immediately set goals that relate to each. Advanced competitors can be guided towards specified plans that will polish their style, while newer competitors can maximize their strengths and plan steps towards increased confidence and skill. Your coach has a bag full of tips, tricks, and drills, but they need to interact with you as a unique competitor as early in the season as possible to give their best advice. The beauty of a brainstorming session is that this benefit occurs naturally regardless of your age and experience in the world of speech.
3. Optimize Your Financial Investment
The finances of online speech and debate coaching are an important aspect for families to consider. While weekly or bi-weekly coaching sessions allow the most influential relationship between coach and student and yield the best results, they’re not a feasible option for each family. Investing in coaching on the front end of the season optimizes your finances by providing students with exercises that will carry them through the fall to the first tournaments of the season. Students who take diagnostic sessions to heart will have notes to pull from for months and ideas for a speech that won’t need to be overhauled mid-season.
Implementing this preparation strategy is as simple as booking a session with myself or another fantastic Lasting Impact coach! You can walk into a brainstorming session without a single idea – it’s our job to have the buffet of questions prepared and help you formulate both goals and ideas. Even a single brainstorming session can provide all the benefits I’ve been outlining, so don’t feel locked into finding the ideal coaching relationship on the first try. Dialoging with several coaches can give you multiple perspectives and will aid you in determining what coaching personality is a good fit for you to work with throughout the season.
Kaitlyn is one of our Lasting Impact! Coaches. She loves to help students craft their platform speeches with beautiful rhetoric and polish their limited prep delivery through a range of persuasion techniques. Schedule a coaching appointment with Kaitlyn today! Check out the rest of the Lasting Impact! Coaching Team HERE
Kaitlyn competed in the NCFCA for six years in all of the Limited Prep and Platform events. Highlights of her career included ten top-10 finishes at the National Championship, featuring a win in Apologetics in 2016 and Biographical Narrative in 2017. She was delighted to receive the title of 2017 National Sweepstakes Champion. Kaitlyn is pursuing a double major in Music and Philosophy at Grove City College. Along with continuing her passion for the art of communication through coaching, she enjoys her endeavors as a pianist, runner, and admissions office employee. Kaitlyn still takes every opportunity to grow her own communication and coaching skills and she hopes to become a professional public speaker.