Three speech events you have to try at least once

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Some people will advise that you try every speech event at least once in your high school career, but let’s be realistic. It would be possible to participate in every event, but it wouldn’t be practical or a good use of your school’s resources. You need time to adjust to an event, and you should concentrate your efforts on your areas of expertise rather than trying to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. However, there are three speech events you should definitely experience before you graduate.


Extemporaneous Speaking: Don’t be afraid, speechies. This daunting event is definitely worth it! Even if it is just for one tournament, you should try Extemp for two reasons. One, it will teach you a valuable lesson about the work some of your fellow students put into their performances in this event. You wouldn’t believe the detail involved with organizing resources, writing a speech in just half an hour, and learning how to research at a moment’s notice. And two, if you are actually good at Extemp, you need to be competing in it at every tournament! You will never know until you try.


Humorous Interpretation: Everyone loves H.I. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to talk about, and it’s definitely the most popular event to judge. The reason? You’re either funny or you’re not. A lot of people think H.I. is an easy event because you’re just telling jokes. But there’s more to it than that: natural talent, timing, memorization, creative blocking, and the ability to find an extremely compelling piece to perform. Performing in H.I. is also a great way to strengthen your skills in other events because you get immediate feedback from your audience (laughing vs. not laughing) as opposed to other events in which you don’t know what your audience’s response was until you receive your scores at the end of the tournament. Compete in this once and you'll gain immense respect for anyone who regularly participates in H.I.


Duo Reading: You’ll need a black binder and a partner for this one. This event will teach you how to work closely with another person, as well as how to approach interpretation with challenges such as not being able to look at each other. Participating in Duo is an easy way to make friends on a team if you're new (you will definitely bond with your Duo partner), and it will help you meet students from other schools. Most importantly, you'll be faced with challenges in Duo that you don't experience in any other event -- in particular, coming up with creative blocking that involves two characters. It’s an art when it's done well, and it's an experience everyone should have. You should compete in (or at the very least, watch a round of) all these events while you’re still competing. You won’t regret it!

As interesting as this is, and I do find immense value in your rationals, I just can't help but ask: Should you do events just to learn from them, or choose events based on personal interests and/or strengths? What if you already have skills in one of your three events; do you still do that event? As beautiful logic your argument is, I hold that if you have no interest in that event it is not worth doing. Ever. If you want to learn to research but have no desire to do Extemp, go to the Owl at Purdue and read a tutorial. I don't think you have to do any of these events to excel and surpass in any event you choose to throw yourself into. Great advice for the extrovert who likes to try everything (I will admit these three events do capture a skill set that extends to multiple events), but for those who have found their event love, really unnecessary.

H.I. Is so halarious! I regret that Michigan Forensics doesn't have this event. We've watched a few at school of the nationals. They were the most amazing things I've ever seen!! I don't know if I could do it, but I wish I had the option to try. But I am doing pros instead - a flop over from last year's event, oratory - or snoratory as some on my team call it.

when you say flop over, does that mean you did OO?  if so, what was your about?  and "snoratory?"  HA!  i am totally stealing that for future shenanigans.  


      As much as many of us don't want to admit it, the main goal of this activity is education.  We learn how to research, read an audience, present ourselves in a digestable way, interact with people who are collegues as well as competition, research, and more.

      With that in mind, I would argue that wihle you might want to start with an event that you have an aptitude for that you'll really master quickly, the real worth is in performing the events that you never thought you'd like, want to do, or want to learn about ('event love' aside). Mastering those events will fill you with a sense of accomplishment, broaden your skill set, and no matter if trophies result, make you a better competitor.

That's an insightful view of Forensics.  One I completely agree with, and one we tend to forget.  I don't have any statistics, but I am fairly certain that there IS a high correlation of doing well in school and being involved in Forensics.  You don't need a multi-million dollar study to deduce that--especially with your rational!  (Though, to be somewhat scientific, I do know from studying education in college that students who are involved with after school activities tend to be better in school and have a higher graduation rate than those who don't.  Involvement requires a certain level of academic success to participate, thus students doing the work to stay in debate or on the baseball team.  It's like the activities give students another reason to be at school.  This is an over-simplification of course.)

And you do learn a lot about yourself when you enter into an event you know little about at first.  It definitely is a way to grow your skill-set.  I admit, I stuck to events I liked because I was involved in other activities and I just wanted to do what I enjoyed.  But I see your reasoning.  Well spoken!



Anony's picture

I have done extemp speaking before, and am very glad that I got involved in the event.  The way it was set up for me was in two categories.  Persuasive Extemp and Informative Extemp.  Both were competitions at U.I.L. meets and both called on different types of speaking.  I normally would have never participated in this event, had I researched what it was to begin with.  Speaking in front of a group of people or a panel of judges can be one of the most nerve wracking and rewarding acommplishments.  I would love to try Duo Reading and H.I.! I would also reccomend that people try Poetry/Prose Interpretations and either Lincoln-Douglas or Cross X debate. Even if you aren't super successful in competitions in these events you gain from the skills that surface while doing these events.

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