Dare to Try Debate
Starting high school at St. Agnes, I wanted to try something new, so being a risk-taker, I signed up for debate, not even considering what it would entail. Being on the St. Agnes Speech and Debate Team has been thrilling and an incredibly fun experience.
This past weekend I attended my 3rd debate tournament where I was competing in two different events. The first event I was participating in was public forum debate (PF). Public forum can technically be defined as an argumentative round between two teams of two members. The teams have prepared both a con and pro case on the current topic and a coin is flipped to decide which team will be arguing each side. PF requires a passionate viewpoint on the current topic and a strong basis of research. The second event I competed in was extemporaneous speaking. I had 30 minutes to prepare a 7-10-minute speech on a domestic subject. To me, as a first-time competitor in the event, this all seemed nerve-racking and nail-biting. I had no clue what to expect and how I would ever be able to manage in 30 minutes.
Once I had gotten my topic, I began to research and memorize rapidly, and the 30 minutes went by in a snap. Despite the fact that I was well-prepared, I felt panicked. I walked up to the judges' room, practicing my speech in my head. As soon as I entered the room, I was told to begin my speech. There I stood in front of the judge and I could not remember a single word of my prepared speech! I had no clue where to begin and I was silently panicking. The judge prompted me a second time and I told myself to take a deep breath. I carefully thought of the preparation and information I had explored, and I was able to begin. I successfully delivered my speech and learned new skills in the process.
Unlike other activities one participates in where the stakes don't seem so high, debate is much more suspenseful yet rewarding. It was incredibly difficult, especially as a beginner going up against experienced debaters. Yet, I was still proud of how I did, and I ended up enjoying it. I recommend anybody interested in debate to take a chance and try extemporaneous speaking. It is incredibly exciting and a beneficial way to improve one's public speaking skills. Three months into my debate experience, I already am better at spontaneously speaking, articulating, and writing a passionate speech in a rushed manner.
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