by Kristi Eskelund
I’d say the best way to use the summer to prepare for next year’s speeches is….read, pray, and live!
READ: Summer is a great time to browse the library, pick up something that looks interesting, or read that classic you’ve been meaning to get around to.
Read stories that might make good interp material. Ask yourself, “Am I feeling like something funny or something weighty?” “What kind of statement am I looking for?”
Read source material to explore platform ideas. Ask yourself, “What issues or topics are on my mind?” “What’s going on in the world, in technology, in my neighborhood that I need to know more about?” “What new subject area am I studying this coming year?”
Read up on this year’s debate resolutions. China has a fascinating history and a very different national identity than America does. It will be worth your time to understand that! Retribution and rehabilitation are also very interesting counterpoints for values debate. Study those words and their implications before you jump on a source book for a case.
Read, read, read! Don’t fall in love with something at first sight, though. If a story or topic really grips you, put it in a pile for further consideration. Stew on it. Ask your mom about it. (She knows YOU better than you think.) See if it stays with you after you read other things. Summer is the time for reading broadly, letting your mind freely explore.
PRAY: Seek God’s direction at this early stage of planning. You cannot know now what a few judges most need to hear next June, but God DOES know where He would like to take your voice over the coming months. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart as you read. Ask Him to help you find something worth working on this year. Examine your own heart and the areas where you might need to grow this year. Let your speech work be part of that personal growth!
LIVE: Nothing gives passion and authenticity to your speeches like real experience. So, don’t sit around in front of your computer or iPod this summer. Get out and DO SOMETHING.
Tackle a big project or a physical challenge. This may well help you relate to the characters you’re reading about. Or, it may give you some important perspective you can use in your platform research. Undoubtedly, you’ll gain some fresh examples for your limited prep events. One year, my oldest son took on the task of refinishing our old Radio Flyer wagon for his younger brother. He learned a LOT about rust, about the ravages of time, about leaving a thing un-attended, about the effort and time required for real restoration. He might have been able to make pat statements about those things without the project, but having put grit under his fingernails, he could speak with authority, with genuine understanding, and with a realness than made him far more compelling.
Try a new experience like zip-lining, paddle-boarding, or camping without a latrine! You might learn something about your own limitations and abilities to overcome them (or not overcome them!) I took a fencing course with one of my sons one year. We had a blast together, and it highly informed one of his interp speeches!
Seek out a service opportunity. Host a theme day for some neighborhood kids. Serve at a camp or VBS near you. Assist with your neighborhood roadside clean-up. I promise you, you’ll grow in some capacity that will give you new insight you can draw from when NCFCA or your speech club gears up again.
THEN: At the end of summer, see where the most overlap occurs between that pile of reading material you saved, the things on your heart after praying, and the new experiences you’ve gained from your summer activities. THAT will be your sweet spot for preparing your speeches for the coming season.