Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Five Best Tips for Platform Speech Writing by: Rebecca Frazer

It’s that time of year—time for writing, re-writing, and honing speeches for competition. As an avid fan of the platform speech, I wrote and delivered nine platform speeches in four different platform categories during my years in speech and debate competition. By the end of it all, I’d learned that quality speech-writing takes an intense cognitive and emotional investment, somewhat akin to Churchill’s description of blood, sweat, and tears. We all can benefit from the encouragement of those who have been there before. So for all you hard-working speech writers out there, here are five pro-tips to aid your master process:

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Developing an Idea for a (Platform) Speech – The “So What?” Factor

If you have been to one of my camps or workshops, I sometimes have my own little ways of saying things- "a Heather Neumann-ism." ;) Needless to say, I have coined the phrase, "The So What? Factor." Students have ideas all the time for their speeches, but does their idea have the "so what?"  factor? What is the "so what? factor"? Can your idea go the distance? Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you are flushing out an idea for a speech to make sure it has "The So What Factor". Today, we will specifically be going through the so what factor with Platform Speeches and while there is overlap, in the next couple of weeks we will tackle the so what factor with Interps...

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A Guide for Speech Preparation by: Chiara Baldacci

Every tournament at script submission, if you listen, you’ll hear numbers of people complaining (but really bragging) about how little time they put into their speeches. You can almost hear the debate about who has stayed up the latest memorizing and writing. People take pride in their procrastination—especially when they go and win a tournament. But health, sanity, and excellence are all far more important than your pride—and your cramming skills. Pace yourself. You will achieve a higher level of excellence and a lower level of stress…

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2 Approaches to Platform Speeches (Workshop Tonight!)

Which do you pick first? A platform speech category or a specific platform speech topic? Do you decide to write a persuasive and then look for the perfect persuasive topic or become passionate about a speech on baking long before you decide it’d make the perfect after dinner on household mishaps and management? Maybe you haven’t ever thought about this question, but it is an important step in the process of crafting an excellent platform speech. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, so how you choose to answer the question will shape the rhetoric of your speech, its momentum, and your own growth as a speaker. If you’ve decided that you want to invest in a platform speech this year, whether you have brainstormed ideas or not, this is the workshop that will help you take the next steps. We’ll review the basic categories of platform speeches and look at their goals. We’ll examine the reasoning behind choosing topics and choosing platform categories, giving special attention to the relationship between these two approaches. We’ll also spend time working through potential topics ideas you may have. Our goal is to make this workshop an energizing and interactive experience that deepens your understanding of how to craft excellent platform speeches. We hope to see you there!

For more info read on or CLICK HERE to sign up…

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Workshop Wednesday – Making the Most of TP Debate Prep by: Eric Meinerding

Eric Meinerding saw much success in High School Speech and Debate, and now he has been a college debater for the last two tears. He has gleaned many pivotal lessons from his professional collegiate coaches. He can’t wait to share what he has learned this Wednesday night! Join us  in his live online workshop (only $5 for members) titled, “Making the Most Out of TP Prep”, for more info click HERE.

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It’s Speech Season… but what event should I do?

The Speech and Debate season is officially started - clubs have begun to meet, students are meeting with their coaches, preparations for the upcoming season are underway, and while competitions may seem far, far away to you right now, these next couple of months are actually critical time for the students who arrive at that first competition invested and ready. So, how to begin? Where to start? How do you decide what events you are going to do?

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Benefits to a Brainstorming Coaching Session by: Kaitlyn Butts

​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!

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You’re Heading to Nationals… Now What?

WORK!

It sounds simple, but so often than not, the goal is met- you made it to Nationals!! Some student’s breathe a sigh of relief and they think, now is the time for a well deserved break! Stop! That is not the attitude to have! In fact, now is when you need to rev up the engines and really start working! Here are Heather’s top tips to help you prepare for National Competition in Speech (and even Debate)…

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The Benefits of One on One Coaching

There are many benefits to getting the guidance of a speech and/or debate coach. In fact, our whole web site has article after article, of our coaches trying to assist you in your journey of speech and debate. If you have never had a one on one coaching session, here are some reasons why…

Accountability– If your parent isn’t guiding you, nor do you feel accountable to your speech and debate club- your speech coach can make sure you have that plan of attack, how and when things need to be done by.

Micro-Expressions– There are the finite details that just can’t be done when you run through a speech in full time. By working with a coach in “stop/start mode” or having them help you pick a part your speech you can really take it to  another level. In interpretive speeches you can work on facial expressions, characterizations, or blocking.

Delivery– The way things are said, facial expressions, and hand gestures can all be covered in detail in just one coavhing session.

Idea Generator– It’s always nice to have someone who will help you bring forth ideas to help make your creation into a masterpiece. Each coach has a variety of skills, as well as ideas they can and will bring to the table.

Another Perspective– Whether or not you are winning tournaments, having a coach look at your speech can be a a breath of fresh air or a cog of inspiration.

These are just a few of the benefits having a coaching session can provide. In addition to the various benefits of one on one coaching, there are also times within the season that can be extremely beneficial to some personal coaching. Here is what Heather Neumann had to say about coaching at various points in a competitor’s season…

Beginning– This is probably one of my favorite times, as a coach. I love trying to figure out what piece suits the competitor best. I like looking through scripts, offering suggestions. I also love the thought process, talking through ideas, whether it’s a platform or interpretive speech. So much energy is put into the beginning stages of a speech, I love being part of helping the competitor think of all the angles. And can you believe I have already had people ask me about next season?!

Middle– Sometimes it can be a little tricky coming in mid-season. I usually meet clients mid-season that are trying to figure things out. Perhaps they are breaking, but not making it to finals. Maybe they are still struggling with their cut, their piece, or the topic. This is when we flush out the direction of where they want to go. Almost no speech is written the first time and never revised, so I help them shape or mold their piece with some refining.

End– The student probably knows their piece inside and out, but may need a little help on the fine details. Are they missing anything? Is there something they can be doing to make it better. This is when it’s nice to have a second set of eyes on the piece to make sure it is the best it can be!

Whether you are at the beinnging, middle, or end of your journey, entrusting your speech with a coach can give you insurmountable joy and enrichment. I not only come along side students, but parents, coaches, and clubs. Sometimes I meet with a student once, and other times I coach them all season. My hope is to teach them what to look for, what to think about, and then they can give back what they have learned. Not convinced yet if you see the benefits to one on one coaching… here are what some others had to say…

From an Alumni: “Being coached by other people is something that I find necessary for success. I actually can’t think of a single speech where I didn’t receive any one-on-one critiques before giving it in competition. Here’s the way I look at it: I only have so much creative capability, but my speech can be aided by additional creative suggestions from other people. This could be in the form of restructuring an entire presentation or simply saying a word differently. One on one coaching allows your speech to become fine-tuned and although it’s not always easy to be evaluated and criticized, it results in a superior presentation that you’ll have more joy sharing.”

From a competitor’s point of view: “Over the years I have spent many hours trying to improve my speeches, sometimes to no avail. But one method always provides positive results when I do it, giving my speech in front of others. Others’ constructive criticism has made my speeches Nationals worthy and without it I wouldn’t have been able to get as far as I had.”

What Coach Kristi says:  One on one coaching is more focused than the suggestions you get in a club setting or on a ballot.  And there are reasons for that….

First of all, you’ve likely done some preparation.  At the very least, you’ve set aside your time to give to the individual you’ll be meeting with, and you’ve probably thought about what you want to get from them.  This alone is often more than you bring as a competitor to your speech club meeting.  When I coach kids, I always begin by asking, “What comments have you been getting on your ballots?” and “What do you want to accomplish here?”  If a student doesn’t know the answer to those questions, then we probably won’t get much done in the session.  Thankfully, most kids know.  I hear things like, “I need ideas for blocking.”  or “I keep hearing that my characters aren’t distinct enough.”  Even kids who don’t know exactly WHAT is holding them back can articulate that they keep getting 4th or 5th and they aren’t sure how to get up a notch or two.  What they are really saying is, “What would YOU need to see to rank me higher?”  Usually, I can answer that question after listening.

The second reason that one on one coaching is so effective is that the coach isn’t comparing you to other speeches.  The coach is comparing your speech to the ideal of your speech.  Trust me, there is nearly always room there to get closer to that ideal.  The most frustrating thing for competitors is that every coach will have a slightly different ideal.   Some want more energized blocking, while others focus on diction.  Every single one of these ideals helps you up your game, however!  In fact, finding out what several different coaches emphasize or prefer helps you get a much bigger picture of what your speech could be.  Your judge pool is large and varied.  You want to reach as many of them as possible.

One on one coaching gives the coach the chance to actually voice opinions he or she might not blurt out at club.  It also gives them time to really think through their responses more thoroughly than they ever can during a tournament round.  The whole process is more deliberate than other methods of coaching, so you get more out of it.

Of course this article wouldn’t complete with out mentioning that Lasting Impact! could meet your all your coaching needs- from multiple styles of debate, as well as interpretive, platform, and limited prep type speeches.  Simply check out our amazing coaches and schedule an appointment with any one of them! Here are also some of the organizations we have had the opportunity to coach for…

  • NCFCA – National Christian Forensic and Communication Association
  • Stoa
  • NSDA – National Speech and Debate Association
  • CFA – Catholic Forensic Leagues
  • NHD – National History Day
  • TedX

Here is what some of our clients wanted to share:

-The coaches of LastingImpact! have some of the best alum I have seen compete in the past twelve years. They are as dedicated to your success as you are. Their advice is worth your investment.

-Lasting Impact! enlists some of the best coaches, I highly recommend you take the time to present for them.

-Without the help of my Lasting Impact! coach I would not have broke.

-My coach was extremely helpful! She had the perfect combination of motivation, encouragement, and inspiration.

Is This On? Get it on Camera

So, you’re running out of ideas for improving your piece. You’re wondering if there is honestly anything left to do to elevate your it to Nationals quality. But, maybe there is one more way to think of ideas for your speech…..watch a recording of it! I discussed with you a little bit ago the power of practicing in front of a mirror but have you ever reviewed your speech from the audience's perspective?

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