You’re Heading to Nationals… Now What?


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)…

CONGRATULATIONS, you made it to Nationals, now what? As nice as it would be to take that well-deserved break… it’s time to pull up those boot straps and get working…

1. Read though each and every ballot. This might seem like a no brainer. Some of you are thinking… I already have! No, I mean, pull out all the ballots, all at once and analyze what they all said, category by category. Try to pick out similarities that you can work on. In semi finals, do you tend to speed up? Is your first round always a little flat? Is your time consistent? Are people getting confused by your characters? Now is the time to tackle any issues that your ballots are giving. Hopefully, you see growth when you look at your ballots from the beginning of the season until the end, however even if you won, there is almost always something to work on!

2. Extra Feedback. How many tournaments have you gone to? Yes, you have all those ballots, but there is still more feedback you can get. Talk to parents, family members, hire a coach! Are you thinking of everything, is your speech clear? Be sure to use your final weeks of prep making sure you are reaching your audience. This can be a group effort! The more people you have thinking, strategizing, helping, the better you can be. However, please note- make sure you are still the one in the driver’s seat. This is your piece, your work, be sure you agree and that changes are for the better. You want to go into a National Competition with confidence.

3. Look at your competition. This sounds like strategic planning… and it is! Is there a particular person or team that is winning? What does their piece have that yours doesn’t? Clearly, you can’t change your piece, but can you learn anything from your competition? Sports teams do this all the time! They have to rise to the level of their competition. Have you watched their speech? How can you improve yours? Is it content? Is it delivery? If you are trying to rise to the next level, what needs to be done?

4. Do you still have passion? This is another huge component to heading in to your last tournament of the season. Those competitor’s who still love what their doing, will still shine! Do you need to fall back in love with what you are doing? Remember what drew you in to compete in the first place. If you are a debater, it isn’t necessarily creating that new case, maybe it’s digger deeper and thoroughly understanding the one you have. The same thing is true for an interpretive piece- are you looking at it from all angles? Do you love your characters? Is there a message? Do you believe it yourself?

Kristi and I had a conversation with 2016 National Duo Champions. We talked about all the work and dedication that brought them to National Champions. Here is part of the interview of what Ashley Heady and Jathan Jackson had to say…

Click Here

Good Luck taking these next steps! Remember- although your speech may be just a brief moment in your audience’s life… it’s amazing how you can and will leave a lasting impact!