Don’t Forget Your Facial Expression in Speech AND Debate!!

ALL Speech events, even Debate need facial expressions!! I will repeat- facial expressions are important! Whether it's a platform, interpretive, or limited prep speech event OR debate your facial expression will set the mood. Are you happy, concerned, urgent, angry, sad, etc.? Your facial expression is pivotal!

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Why is the MESSAGE important in your Speech?

Making sure your speech has significance is going to allow your judges the ability to connect with you, which in turn will hopefully cause your rank to improve. Sure, delivery is important, but it is what you are saying that is going to leave a lasting impact...

Young speakers struggle with figuring out what their topic is going to be on, nevertheless making it have the "So What Factor". Guiding them through the importance of having a message is something you should spend time in club doing. Here are my reasons WHY speakers should have a message...

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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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Do you have an AH-HA moment in your speech?


Judges don't always know what kind of Speech they will be drawn to- some judges like to be entertained, some like to learn, some like to be inspired. Most of the time- something just appeals to them... But they aren't quite sure what?!

Good stories usually involve a plot twist. Novels have many story-lines, sub-plots, etc. Fitting all the elements of good story-teller into a 10-minute Speech can be difficult. The element of surprise can be hard to get in to a Speech... And I'm not talking about yelling, scaring your judges. I'm talking about an "AH-Ha Moment"...

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Fishing For Your Audience…The Hook

We have been told over and over "the hook" is one of the most important elements of your platform speech. I've even heard it say that the first 45 seconds will determine whether or not your audience will be drawn in. Now I grew up in Wisconsin in a hunting and fishing family. When I first heard about "the hook", I thought well, that's funny... because when I used to go fishing with my dad, it was kind of boring?! You cast, and you wait... and wait... and wait. And more times than not, there was a lot of sitting. You see, what you put on your hook will determine how long you wait. We don't want to make your audience wait too long.

Recently, I was reminded about a certain type of fishing my dad did in Northern Wisconsin- musky fishing!! You cast, and your reel it in, you cast and your reel it back in... did you catch anything? Ah-ha! That's it! We want to be musky fishermen when we are speaking. We want to hook our audience... and reel them in.

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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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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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Prepared and Invested in Speech and Debate

Have you had your first tournament yet?  We have.  In my region, we had some young competitors who launched right to the top of the field at this first competition of the year.  I spoke to one of the dads and asked if it was a surprise to his family that his daughter broke in multiple events - including debate - while two older, more seasoned brothers did not.  He answered, "Not to me."

"Really?" I replied.

"No.  She's been working on her speeches since last June.  The boys were still putting theirs together on the way here."

That situation is NOT uncommon.  But I can assure you that all that effort spent getting ready for the first tournament scored some BIG at-large points or check marks for those competitors that came prepared and invested in their material.

So is it too late for that?  Absolutely not...

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Sign Up Now For Online Speech Workshops in February!!

Our first Online Workshop (Apologetics) in December was a huge success! We are excited to share so much more with you! Thanks to technology coming February 9th and 10th we will be offering 4 more online workshops- Characters, Illustrated Oratory/Expository, After Dinner Speaking, and Storytelling! There is so much to learn in the exciting world of Competitive Speech! Whether you want to add to your speeches this year, or planning ahead for next year! These four workshops will be packed with valuable information from our amazing Lasting Impact! coaches. Get all the details below… And Sign Up Today!!

Creating Fantastic Characters with Heather Neumann

Date: Fri. Feb. 9

Time: 10:30 am CT (Approx. 1.5 hrs)


Are you wanting to take your characters to the next level? Learn how to develop a deeper understanding of your characters. Participants will be guided through an analysis of their interpretive speech, specifically for their characters. Each participant will be given Heather Neumann and Kristi Eskelund’s character worksheets. We will also have guest speakers to give examples of “pops”, voices, facial expressions, etc.

Heather Neumann has been coaching for years… Teaching students to look with in themselves to create well developed characters.

All About IO/Expos with Anna Johansen

Date: Fri. Feb. 9

Time: 1:00 pm CT (Approx. 1.5 hrs)


IOs and Expositories are intimidating. Most competitors are overwhelmed by the idea of building boards from scratch—coming up with ideas and figuring out how to make them happen in real life. How do you make a stained-glass window? How do you make a 3D staircase? How do you make a sinking Titanic? In this workshop, we’ll take you from the basics (like materials, magnets, adhesives, and straight edges) all the way to the finishing touches (like themes, aesthetics, interactive pieces, and show-stopping features). If you’ve ever considered doing an IO/Expository this workshop is a great way to give you the practical tools to make it happen.

Anna Johansen is a speech and TP coach in the Chicago area. She also writes, edits, and coaches for Ethos Debate. Anna is currently pursuing a double major in English and History, and hopes to continue teaching and writing long-term. Whether it is through editing others’ work or creating her own, teaching the tools or using them, she wants to pass on a love of speaking and writing and communicating to everyone she comes in contact with.

After Dinner Speaking with Aj and Heather Neumann

Date: Sat. Feb. 10

Time: 10:30 am CT (Approx. 1.5 hrs)


After Dinner Speaking is hard! How do you write a speech that is informative, impactful, and perhaps motivational, yet funny? ADS is so much more than just telling stories. Learn how to create or add depth to your After Dinner Speech. And don’t forget your delivery! We will teach you what you need to know to make your ADS shine!

Aj Neumann qualified to Nationals both years NCFCA offered After Dinner Speaking. He won Regionals, had many first places at tournaments, and in 2015 got 3rd place at The National Championship. Aj is passionate about ADS and he can’t wait to share what he has learned through his experiences.

Storytelling with Abbey Lovett

Date: Sat. Feb. 10

Time: 1:00 pm CT (Approx. 1.5 hrs)


In this webinar, Abbey is going to go over why storytelling is important in all styles of competitive forensics and communication. She’ll talk about the science behind storytelling, how you should use it in speeches, and how you can become a powerful storyteller. She will give you practical tips and tricks that you can take into any aspect of your life to craft powerful stories.

Abbey Lovett has been involved with competitive forensics for over eight years and has gained three national champion titles. In her time both as a speaker and a coach, she has learned that the most powerful way to communicate important ideas is through storytelling. Abbey has studied storytelling for years and is excited to share with you what she has learned.

All workshops will be done through Zoom, an online meeting forum.


$5 per workshop for members of Lasting Impact!


$20 per workshop


Experiencing The Art of Communication By: Abbey Lovett

Abbey Lovett is one of our Lasting Impact! Coaches. She will be hosting an Online Workshop Feb. 10 at 1:00 CT on Storytelling. It will be part of our Online Workshop Series- Storytelling, Illustrated Oratory/ Expository, After Dinner Speaking, and Creating your Characters. More information coming soon to sign up for the online workshops!! For now, enjoy Abbey’s article on The Art of Communication… Be sure to check out her video too!

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