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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Opinion- Short Scripts – Yes or No? (Plus Vlog)


There is now a whole market of short scripts, written for competitive speech and available easily online.  Lots of kids are going that route to find their competitive interp pieces.  Seasoned coaches, Kristi Eskelund and Heather Neumann give their thoughts and opinions on the script debate…

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Novices- Where to Start in Speech and Debate – part 2

In the last article, we analyzed where novices could/should start in Speech and Debate, in general. That included debate, as well as the type of speeches - Platform, Interp, and Limited Prep. Today we are going to look at the specific categories of speeches offered in different leagues, because I often get asked the question, "what speech event should my novice/beginning student do?"

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Novices- Where to Start in Speech and Debate – part 1

I am sure if you were to ask ten different Speech and Debate Coaches what type of Speech or Debate is good to do for a beginning student, you might get ten different answers. Of course each and every senerio is going to be unique and so here are some of my thoughts when encouraging new students to start Speech and Debate…

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Speech and Debate Club- Time and Commitment to both Advanced and Novice Members

One of the great challenges in Speech and Debate clubs - especially well-established and growing clubs - is how to make the club time valuable for both ends of the experience spectrum- advanced and beginner students.  A new family in the club knows nothing and is feeling overwhelmed and uniformed.  They need to know what the events are.  They need practice and instruction in basic skills.  They need to know what they are aiming for.  They want to grow so they can do this speech thing.   And let's face it, those kids who have competed a couple of seasons don't want to learn basic skills again.  They don't want to have the events explained to them.  They don't even want to demonstrate last year's speeches!  They want to grow themselves.    How do we find the balance here?

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