The Value of Talking Competitively

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
-William Shakespeare
This past Saturday, I attended the end-of-year party for my Speech&Debate club, Paradigm. Speech&Debate competitions go on throughout the school year, but now summer is here, and the students get a break until next year. Except, of course, for those extremely competitive students, who are using the summer to prepare for next year. I was forced to compete in Speech&Debate my first year, but afterwards, I chose to return for a second and third year, and after graduating, I returned this past year as a coach, and will hopefully continue to do so on the future. So today, I'll be giving a brief explanation about why Speech&Debate is so important.

One reason is that it desensitizes you to the stage. Surveys and studies commonly show public speaking as the number one fear among humans. Stage fright is something that everybody experiences- even those who are used to it. I played the lead role in our school play, A Christmas Carol, in my senior year. We had practiced for months, and I knew my part. I knew that I could do it right. But I can still remember standing backstage as the audience poured in, feeling nervous about the upcoming show, and remembering that this was only the first night, with only half an audience. Stage fright is normal. But public speaking allows you to handle it without freezing up. When you're in front of a group, everything freezes in your head, and suddenly, you aren't sure if you're making sense. But when you practice it over and over again, even though the nervousness will never leave completely, you will learn to be able to function in that environment.

Another reason is that it helps with analysis skills. When you write a speech, you need to know how to prove your point. This means that you need to not only know why you're right, but you need to also know what people will say against you and how to refute their arguments, before they even speak a word.
In addition, it helps you to think quickly. You need not only to be able to analyze, but to be able to analyze quickly and sort this analysis into words. This type of skill comes up even in day-to-day life, when you're not on a stage.

The final reason that I'll be listing today is that it rounds out your existing skills. Speech&Debate consists of a number of different types of events, and requires a number of skills. Most people already have a few of the skills needed in Speech&Debate. But when they compete, they round out those skills. I've been fairly good with logic for quite a long time. But not only did Speech&Debate help refine that area of my life, it also taught me about performance, organization, and a number of other skills that I wouldn't have otherwise learned.

There are many reasons that Speech&Debate is valuable. I've listed a few of the larger ones here, but there are many more. My hope is that many students would compete in Speech&Debate, and that non-students would work with it in other ways for the sake of being in the environment. It's common for people to say that they're not good at it, or that they don't enjoy that type of thing, so that's all well and good for some people, but not for them. I would encourage people not to look at it in that sense. Why? Because nobody's good at it, and nobody enjoys it. At least, not when they start. This isn't something you're born with. It's something to learn, and it's something for everyone to learn.
"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them."

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