We just put up a great post on the Capitol Debate blog page that highlights some of the best scholarships that you can go for if you participate in debate. We list out our four favorites, provide all the details, and point you in the right direction if you want to apply. Many debate students don’t realize that you can get a scholarship for this, and with college tuition so high these can be extremely helpful. Heres the link to the full post.
Capitol Debate has several teams that are heading to the NCFL Championship and we are extremely excited for them. This is something they have been working very hard on and it’s great to see the hard work pay off. We wrote about it on the Capitol Debate blog here if you would like to read more!
There are many advantages of being bilingual in this day and age. Whether a student hopes to master a foreign language or improve their English language skills – especially those who learned English as a second language – practicing debate can help them achieve their goals. I recently put a blog up on the Capitol Debate blog that goes into four ways that debate can improve your foreign language skills and the advantages that can bring. View the full post here.
Something we are very proud of at Capitol Debate is our introductory debate course that we hold online for students. This course allows students from any location to get a chance to learn the fundamentals of debate and effective debating skills.
We have received great feedback from students and parents on the experience, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight more of the benefits. There are still people who question the effectiveness of online education, but in my experience with Capitol Debate this channel is a valuable and efficient tool for sharing knowledge.
One of the benefits that stood out immediately was the convenience. Holding courses online meant that both students and teachers were able to interact using computers they were comfortable with. Because each student was on a computer during the course they were able to seamlessly transition into working on research together online. A lot of times with in-person classes it’s not realistic to expect each student to have their own laptop to bring.
These online classes also meant that students didn’t need to drive to meet at a certain location, they could just learn right from home. This was something that students enjoyed and parents greatly appreciated. Being able to integrate these courses into everyone’s routine without adding on extra driving made a big difference.
Through these online courses we also noticed an improvement in student interaction and what they were able to get done. While this may seem counterintuitive, the fact that each student was able to be involved in the research process when preparing debates was great for everyone. Everyone got a chance to contribute and as a result each student was able to get more done individually. We were also able to give students access to the best debate experts possible since location was no longer an issue.
One of the best testaments to the effectiveness of these courses and why we believe in them so much is the results that students were able to get. Through our online courses we have coached many foreign students who went on to debate in the Middle School Nationals. We’ve also trained other students who have made the top ten in this competition as well. All this was done entirely through training them online.
We are quite happy with the results that our online courses have been able to bring our students. In this day and age being able to use the internet efficiently for educating others is something that many people still underestimate. At Capitol Debate however, we believe very heavily in the power of online courses and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
In the first part of the blog series we went over how to conceptualize and plan your speech. This part will be covering what to do when you actually put pen to paper and start writing your speech.
Write your opening statement:
When beginning your speech it’s a good idea to try and hook your audience with a solid opening statement. This will help grab their attention and sets the tone for the rest of the speech.
One mistake that many new public speakers make is to go too far with this. Don’t just say anything you can to draw attention to the stage, say something that fits the speech. Even something like “I’ve met a lot of crazy people in my sales job” can do the trick. It make people think “what kind of crazy people?” You don’t need to yell out “BOOM” or something like that just to get attention.
Create your supporting points:
Just as if you were writing an essay, your speech needs supporting points to back up your topic. Obviously the most important part here is to make sure you are doing good research. Utilize reputable sources and fact-check your ideas as you go along.
If you have any personal experience with your topic as well then feel free to add this to your supporting point. Just make sure you back it up with facts as well.
Format your speech:
In many settings it’s acceptable to bring notes or a page to help you deliver the speech. Because of this, you have the option to decide how you would like to use this aid. If you want to play it safe and bring the whole thing, just write it onto a piece of paper and bring that along. This will help keep you on track and ensure that you don’t forget anything.
If you are more comfortable with the topic of your speech, or speech-giving itself, you can bring an outline. A common method when taking this route is to lay out your topics and supporting points in a bullet pointed list. This will help you stay on track but also give you more freedom to improvise within the speech itself.
Stay tuned for part 3!
Having to give a speech can seem daunting at times. You want to be sure to make your point in an effective way that doesn’t bore people to tears. On top of that you might be feeling a bit nervous because you aren’t a confident public speaker (most people aren’t).
How do you get past all this? Prepare, prepare, prepare. Over-preparing has never hindered anyones ability to accomplish their goals, and that definitely applies to speeches as well.
The next few posts will highlight a solid general strategy to take when preparing for a speech. They will be broken up into different parts based on each topic in order to keep things manageable.
One thing to keep in mind is that everyone has methods that work best for them. Feel free to use what you like and leave what you don’t. There’s no perfect formula for creating a great speech, but this should be a solid resource that gives a few options.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Part 1: Planning The Speech
Choose your topic:
Many times when creating a speech, new writers get caught trying to include too many topics. This gives the speech a lack of focus and could potentially confuse the audience. Choosing your topic is not unlike creating a marketing campaign, you want to always present one clear call to action.
If you have long amount of time and are expected to cover a few topics, don’t panic. Simply segment the speech into different parts that address each topic. Make it clear when you have moved on to a new topic by not revisiting the last one unless it’s absolutely necessary. This will keep the audience on track.
Identify the audience:
When crafting a speech it’s important to know who you are speaking to. This will help you understand what sort of information you need to include as well as what tone you should take.
If you are giving a speech to people who aren’t familiar with your topic, you know you have to speak in layman terms and make things simpler. If you are speaking to experts then you can use more advanced industry terminology that they understand.
Determine the motive behind the speech:
One of the factors that a lot of people overlook is the tone and purpose of the speech. Are you trying to motivate people? Are you trying to bring their attention to something somber?
This will help you when crafting the speech and also provide some guidance when it comes time to deliver it. Using words that that don’t match the tone will bring the audience out of focus and make them think “huh?”
That’s all for part 1! Keep an eye out for part 2 which dives into the process of actually putting the speech on paper. The next part should be up in a few days.
Speaking in public is part of business and anyone looking to advance their career is going to need to understand how to engage and persuade a group listeners. The ability to communicate your ideas effectively is one of the most fundamental skills a businessperson needs to succeed.
Unfortunately, many of consider public speaking highly unpleasant and some consider it a full-blown fear. But to get ahead, a person has got to overcome and learn to communicate with a group. Writing for the Knox News Sentinel, author and CEO Chris Crouch gives the fearful some advice on how to work your way through a speech or public presentation.
Stress is good for you.
You do not need to be sweating bullets, but a healthy amount of stress will keep you mentally acute and alert. Just be reasonable and confident and your stress can be your ally and not your foe.
Plan your pace.
Your audience needs to be able to follow what you are saying and maintain their attention on you. Your pace helps you to do that. A speaking pace of roughly 170 words per minute is a healthy pace. 200 words per minute is often too fast and you will begin to lose your audience, and below 150 words is too slow.
When planning your speech, count out the number of words and adjust them for how long you would like to speak and then practice. Read the first 170 words of your speech to a timer. At the end of one minute see where you are. If you read past 170 words, slow down your pace. If you did not reach that mark then speed up. Keep drilling the pace until you are not only getting the timing right, but that it feels natural.
Read more at Knox News Sentinel.
Over the last five years, I have seen debate camps through both the eyes of the competitive debater and through the eyes of a young instructor. Both experiences have made me understand new things about both debate and about education itself, much like how each batch of new debaters.
Jr. Instructor Thomas Lloyd and his squad of debate campers in Baltimore shared experiences and forged strong connections while encouraging each other to strive for their best.
teaches me during the season. Debate camp is about gaining experience, it is about immersion, but most of all, it is about building connections and community.
When I first joined debate, I just thought that it was an activity that would only consume my weekends and some school nights. It was something that practice and hard work alone could make me better at. When people first mentioned “debate camp” I was skeptical of the idea from the beginning. I was already on track to be successful (or so I thought), and so why spend my summer debating? Eventually, older debaters and coaches sold me on trying out a debate camp after my first year of competition. I entered the camp about as skeptical as possible, I had never been to any camp, let alone a debate camp.
At debate camp however, I quickly became too involved in the activity to even rest on my skepticism. A good debate camp is not unlike a pressure cooker, it forces you to research, compete, and practice more than you normally would in two or three week period. It squeezed more competition and more experience in to a few short days than some local debaters see during their entire season. Obviously, getting experience is good, but because it is continuous, you also go more in depth. By eating, sleeping, and dreaming debate for an extended period of time, you can reflect on the activity, your style, and your experiences in more meaningful and insightful ways.
The impressive itinerary of my camp had another positive side effect, it brought all of the campers, people who I would be competing against, closer together. Many people complain that competitive arenas bring out the worst in people. Debate is unfortunately not immune to the uglier aspects of competition. That said, debate camps give competitors shared experiences and connections that they will carry forward in to the next season. Debate camps foster friendships, which not only fosters collaboration, but also community. This community is a unique, and not only makes debate competition more human, but also makes the debater themselves more ethical and compassionate competitors.
As an instructor, I have seen all of these benefits come to life in multiple generations of students. My debaters have a network of information and help that is far larger than any one I ever could have created. Their dedication to and understanding of the activity are far more advanced than my own when I was at their level. But perhaps most profoundly, I have seen them form an extended, tight-knit, and uniquely argumentative family.
Do you ever wish that you can just get in the debate judges mind and persuade them to vote pro or con. Oh if I can only send subliminal messages to the judge. Well you can!! How you present yourself in a debate is the most critical key to your success. Confidence will win the day every time. Many times, the debate is way too close for the judge to decide who is the winner. So judges start looking for nonverbal cues and/or body language. If you look like you won the debate and you think you won the debate, that can be all you need to tip the edge over to your side.
So what is ethos? Aristotle coined Ethos, Pathos and Logos as keys to persuasion. Pathos deals with emotional appeals to the audience, Logos is logical arguments and Ethos is the speakers credibility. When you are confidence and believe in yourself, your credibility and ethos increases. This is easy to see in Presidential Debates. When Barack Obama appeared less enthusiastic, tired and not interested in his first debate, the audience gave the edge to Mitt Romney even though substantively it was a very close debate.
Think about this in your everyday life. Isn’t the one in your school who walks with his/her head up, shoulders back, and a confident smile seem to have it more together than the person who is slumped over, not smiling and head down. We judge people everyday based on their confidence. So what things can you do in debate and public speaking to enhance your credibility and ethos!
Here are some easy steps that you can immediately implement:
- Stand tall, put your shoulders back and Smile. Keep a close eye on your posture. Research has shown that physiology has a huge impact in our confidence. Taking charge of your stance can immediately redirect your negative energy.
- Believe in yourself. Tell yourself over and over again during a debate that you are doing awesome, that you are a great debater and public speaker, that you are going to win and that you are the bomb! Not cocky though. Research has also shown that your mind has incredible control over your body and how you project yourself. If you believe in yourself, then the audience will see that.
- Never Comment on Any Mistakes you make – if you miss a line or don’t make the right argument in the debate, most of the time the audience misses it. They only notice it when you highlight it. Like a good actor that forgets her lines, she never says “ooops” and neither should you.
- Visualize success – Gestalt psychology contends that if you can visualize yourself doing well and being confident before the debate, that will carry over to competition. At summer debate camps, I always advise the audience to visualize success for the next morning. See it. Believe it.
- First impressions are everything – When you approach the lecturn or stand up or enter the room, enter with bravo and confidence. Take charge. Don’t hesitate. When you approach something with confidence, confidence follows you. Your initial physiology will dictate how you do the rest of the speech.
- Last Impressions are important – after your speech, debate or performance, say to yourself “I did aweome” or “I won” over and over again in your mind. The worse thing to say when you are being evaluated after the debate is “I messed up” or think about that as that will be projected to judge.
- Don’t listen to the monster on your shoulder – if it starts telling you that you are messing up, just redirect your focus back on your speech or debate.
These are some basic ideas to get you started. At our summer debate camps, Capitol Debate will take the time to go more indepth on ethos and debate. For now, watch things fall in place when you act confidently!!
Ronald Bratt, CEO of Capitol Debate, Summer Academic and Debate Camps for Elementary, Middle School and High School students.
One of the most valuable skills for a professional in any field is outstanding public speaking ability. The ability to look comfortable and confident when addressing a room full of people will help you standout and advance in any career. Whenever you speaking publicly, make a conscious effort to develop your own memorable speaking style and enhance your own public speaking skills through constructive self-criticism. Here are some other things you can do to improve your public speaking skills:
If possible, figure out what type of people you will be speaking to. Find out the age range, if there is a predominate gender present, their level of experience and education, even socioeconomic and geographical background. If you can figure out some specifics about the audience you will be speaking to, it will be easier to create material that will keep them interested. Remember, in most public speaking situations, the audience wants the speaker to succeed. The key to success is preparation.
Plan Your Space
Make sure that the physical setup of the room is taken care of so things move along well during your presentation. If you are a guest speaker somewhere, contact your host a few days in advance to tell him or her what you will need. This is the time to request a certain type of microphone—and to remember that, if you request a lavaliere, you will have to wear clothing that will allow you to clip the transmitter comfortably on your body—and to request a computer or projector if needed. If you are going to use a Power Point presentation or slideshow, make sure you are backing up the files in multiple ways. Make sure you save your file to, at least, a USB drive and an online cloud service like Dropbox so you have multiple access options should anything go awry.
Engage With the Audience
Audiences tend to be more responsive when they feel that they are being talked with instead of being talked at. Even if your host introduces you, which will likely happen, make sure you introduce yourself to the audience. Engage the crowd next. Tell a joke, mention a famous quote, or ask a question relevant to the subject matter.
Try to refrain from using your notes. Even the most prepared speakers can look unprepared if they are constantly looking at their notes or—even worse—reading them, verbatim, because of nerves. This looks bad and will disengage the audience. While the audience wants you to succeed, they also want to be entertained. There is no such thing as a bad topic, just a good or bad delivery of a topic. You can always find a way to engage your audience, and one way to do this is to start by simply looking at them during your presentation.