Carrying On… How else can you use your speech and debate skills by: Gloria Heiss

For some, speech and debate season is coming to a close. Perhaps you have a speech that didn’t advance… does that mean it’s over!? No way!

Okay guys, you’ve become experts at public speaking now what do you with all those skillzzzz?

You go and change the world!!!!! Well, maybe first apply to college or go abroad, maybe write a few essays to get scholarships, get an internship…ya know. Adult stuff. But then you can change the world.

In all honesty, I do want to talk about how we (as awesome communicators) can now use the skills we have learned from our time in Speech and Debate and use them in different ways now that we have graduated or moved on from competition. I was in the same boat as you are my junior year. I loved public speaking and writing, but I didn’t feel called to compete anymore. So what could I do to still be creative and use my skill set effectively? I had to look for opportunities and fortunately they popped up all over! So, here’s just a taste of what you can do with your FANTASTIC ability now that you are done competing…

1. Find Opportunities – If you want to try a different environment for competing but you’re still in highschool look into your public school’s league. Maybe they have a club or there’s a school nearby that has one you can join. I know, ewww. Who wants to compete in public school. But they have different categories, different rules, and different tournament setup. See it as a new challenge to take on in your highschool career. You gain exposure to public schoolers while not having to spend $300 – $500 every tournament you go to. Side Note – These tournaments are usually hosted on Saturdays and only take one day! If joining a different league doesn’t sound interesting, find other opportunities to compete. There are contests that you sometimes don’t even have to go to, like submit a video or write an essay.

2. Be Creative! – I would be surprised if your local school didn’t have some form of a speech & debate club on campus. If there isn’t a club….GO MAKE ONE! Do some research and see what you can find that fits your passion. Maybe you volunteer for your local club, or mentor a younger group. Groups want people like you who have experience, especially a young perspective!

3. Spread Your Wings! – Try a different experience, there’s Student Senate, Performing Arts, Poetry Slams, Science Fairs, and so much more! You don’t even have to necessarily do a public speaking activity in order to utilize the skills you have. You could join just about any student leadership, mentorship, or community organization and use what you know in a productive way.

4. Get that Money! (scholarships) – Juniors and Seniors especially, write speeches for scholarships! There are so many oratorical competitions; The American Legion, Optimist Clubs, and even local foundations. But there or those of us who are sick of giving speeches, then spend your time writing essays for scholarships instead. I’m applying to dozens of scholarships that have essay requirements and I’m honestly excited to write these essays because I have had tons of practice with doing speech for seven years. You know how to write, so use it to your advantage in these scholarships.

5. Use Your Voice! – So, you have spent a significant amount of time refining your communication skills what else could you do with them besides pursuing other competitive opportunities and writing scholarships?? You could use your voice to better society, and really get out there. Having these skills puts you at a great advantage, but you only keep that advantage by using what you know. With this politically charged culture, you couldintern for a local campaign, possibly go door to door talking to people about the importance of voting. Another opportunity is cold calling for specific candidates running for office in your local government. Maybe there is an issue in your city you think you can help solve, volunteer your time by writing grant proposals and speeches, formatting a powerpoint, or creating promotional videos. Use your voice to make what you believe something that others can believe in too. From helping raise money to build a well with your church to interning on a local organization’s marketing team there are so many ways you can strike positive change in your neighborhood, church, and community.

Side Note: There is a really good Ted Radio Hour episode called ‘Inspire To Action’ that gives some helpful pointers on how to use your voice.

6. Leadership –

I hope you understand that you have a talent/gift that can be used and shared for many purposes not just for competitive speech and debate. So like my mom likes to tell me, “Go crazy….but not too crazy.” (supportive parents rock).

Gloria Heiss is an intern for Lasting Impact! She spent many years competing in Speech and Debate and now she is finding ways to impact the world!