The Three R’s of Summer Brrreak By: Kaitlyn Butts

If you’re looking at the title of this article and laughing because you have a pile of math to wade through, don’t worry, I was there essentially every summer of my life. I know there are camps to attend, educational opportunities to participate in, and family vacations to go on. Summer break is never quite the epitome of rejuvenation we always envision, but it is a valuable period of time – whether you’re completely burned out and never want to wear a suit again or feeling mounting pressure to grind away the summer to make next season your biggest and best endeavor yet. Brrreak for the speech and debate competitor requires investment in all three Rs…


First, set aside time to reflect on your speech and debate season. You can hold your conclusions in your head or let them spill onto a sheet of notebook paper in the form of lists and goals. If you’re unsure how to reflect on your own, I would highly recommend a series of conversations with your parents or another trusted mentor. Aim to formulate honest answers as you ask yourself some of the following questions.

· Why did I compete in speech and debate this season?
· Did I compete to the best of my ability?
· How did my procrastination habits impact my season?
· Where did I grow in character?
· Am I disappointed in any of my competition results or attitudes?
· How involved do I want to be in speech and debate in the future?
· What events would challenge me to try something new next year?
· Am I willing to commit to excellence next season?

Answering these questions will allow you to become more self-aware. You’ll be better prepared to take on another season of competition. Your process of preparation will be intentional and streamlined.


The speech and debate season is a hectic race that always takes a physical and mental toll on each competitor and their family. Use your summer break to spend time replenishing and growing in your relationships. Chat for hours with old friends. Spend as many precious moments as possible enjoying life alongside your family (as a student who moved nine hours away to go to college, please trust me on this). Seemingly insignificant conversations can plant the seeds of speeches that will flower into masterpieces. Additionally, if you don’t have a speech coach, consider beginning a coaching relationship that will catapult your season to the next level. Be looking for an article from me in the near future addressing the reasons why summer can be the best time to initiate a coaching relationship.


Instead of succumbing to the mindset that your speeches need to be chosen and perfected by September, become a speech-idea-sponge. Soak up odd facts, cultivate your mind’s appetite, and lose yourself in new reading material. If you aim to read ten classic volumes, chances are you’ll start at least three and finish one. Don’t be unrealistic. Younger students might work to read one fantastic piece of fiction and a handful of informative articles appropriate to their age and interests. Older students could strive to finish three books. I would suggest a challenging biography, an engaging novel, and a book that addresses critical cultural issues with thoughtful commentary. My 2017 Informative, which took 7th at Nationals and won several other tournaments, was born out of a single article I stumbled upon while pursuing a thread of research that caught my attention. So far this summer I’ve finished equal parts commentary on emerging American adolescents, classic Russian literature, and philosophical treatise on spiritual formation. Whether you spark a speech idea or not, summer reading will prepare you to deliver fascinating personal examples for any impromptu topic that speaks to reading, variety as the spice of life, or the importance of a curious mind.

Make what’s left of this summer a true brrreak.

Kaitlyn is one of our Lasting Impact! Coaches. She loves to help students craft their platform speeches with beautiful rhetoric and polish their limited prep delivery through a range of persuasion techniques. Schedule a coaching appointment with Kaitlyn today!

Kaitlyn competed in the NCFCA for six years in all of the Limited Prep and Platform events. Highlights of her career included ten top-10 finishes at the National Championship, featuring a win in Apologetics in 2016 and Biographical Narrative in 2017. She was delighted to receive the title of 2017 National Sweepstakes Champion. Kaitlyn is pursuing a double major in Music and Philosophy at Grove City College. Along with continuing her passion for the art of communication through coaching, she enjoys her endeavors as a pianist, runner, and admissions office employee. Kaitlyn still takes every opportunity to grow her own communication and coaching skills and she hopes to become a professional public speaker.