Top Ten Things I've Learned From Speech

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I was doing some thinking the other day about high school and my involvement with my school's speech team.  There were lots of laughs, some tears, stress, and overall joyous fun.  I got to thinking about what speech has taught me.  Some of it's funny, some are skills I can use now.  All of it I tend to associate strongly with speech.  These are in no order, just kind of the order they occurred to me.

Suits Rock

I used to think dressing nice was always the way to impress people with clothing.  Dressing nice is good, but dressing classy is better.  I can't think of anything nicer than a suit with a good cut.  Even now, when I have an interview or need to look professional I pull out my favorite suit.  Bonus points for suits instantly increasing the attractiveness of ANYONE, haha!

Getting Up At 5 AM Is Not That Bad

I'm 23 and I still know plenty of people who think getting up before 6, even 7, is horrible.  Why?  If you have business, play, or an event to get to early in the day then there is a reason behind getting up.  If it's the lack of sleep that causes protest then learn to go to bed earlier or function on little.  Things could be worse; you could have no reason to get up that early.  Besides, it is slightly amusing pretending you are the only thing alive at 5 AM because everything is so dark and quite.  *NOTE: I am not terrible in the morning, but am more of a night creature (just to clarify).  I still think 5 AM is not that awful.*

Coffee Is Miraculous

I did say getting up at 5 AM was not that bad, but sometimes you need a boost to your system!  I never have made coffee a habit.  I am not at Coffee Drinker Level 8 (of 10) where I need caffeine.  No headaches for me!  But I do treat coffee like Popeye treats spinach.  Grab a little bit periodically to increase my productivity and BAM! I am a phoenix, re-born and teeming with energy.


My powers of diction are so profound that I have had friends tell me I am the only person they can completely understand on their cell phones.  On speakerphone.  When I make an effort my crispness of speech is superhero caliber.  I fully attribute this to the hours I would spend practicing my speech pieces.  In high school I was even teased about how I hit every consonant when speaking with my friends.  That's okay though.  Now I just am more well-spoken, which usually gets linked to being smarter--ah, stereotypes, when speaking to others.

Research Skills

I would have had to use and develop these anyway in college, but I first got to start growing them in speech.  How often did I find myself searching for a piece?  And one I liked?  I think people who genuinely put effort into researching a piece will start to learn some tricks for research and form a bank of resources.  


The amount of obstacles you have to overcome in speech are huge.  Finding a piece is a frustrating example.  Memorizing a piece, collaboration, analyzing and interpreting, practicing,...everything in speech requires patience.  Even the small collection of time spent waiting around needs patience.  On the bus, for results, etc.  Though you love what you do, you still get irritated.  You love the event/competition so much it can hurt and lead you to madness.  Patience is necessary for sanity.  What little sanity speechies have--we are a little eccentric, haha.


Who knew you can find a piece, cut it, memorize it, and perform it all within a week or two?  A speechie knows, that's who.  The pressure will be on, but a speechie keeps cool.  What pressure?  You guys might not appreciate it now, but this pressure practice will make college or grown-up life work seem like nothing.  

Egyptian Rat-Slap

I learned how to play this exciting card game when hanging out with my team between rounds.  It might not be a life-skill, but it is undeniably fun.

Even Things You Love Can Push You To Breaking

I won't get into details, but it's enough to say by the end of my final year in speech the coaches had pushed most of the Varsity into early retirement.  I was the only senior on the team.  You don't need to know why.  What is important is that for three years I loved speech and by the 4th I was ready to quit.  I only stayed because I felt responsible for the team and those a year or so under me.  I also stayed because for the time I got to perform all the drama of the year was gone.  Those 8 minutes made all the anger and disappointment manageable.  So, I learned that not everything you do or are involved with can be a dream, but if you love it enough you can make it work and be mostly happy.  Nothing is ever going to be perfect.   

What I Am Capable Of

Going back to my last year, I should also note at that point I had none of my acting friends to coach me because they had left speech.  They often had pushed my performance.  I did have a lovely coach, but she knew less about performing than I did.  I was advancing beyond her means.  Love her and respect her still, but there was only so much she could do.  My final year I coached myself more than ever before.  And guess what?  I had the best ranked season of my career!  I am not implying I am a Speech God or better than everyone.  I'm not.  I am just saying that to do anything you have to work for it yourself.  Help might exist, but really it's all you.


That's what I learned from Speech.  I would also like to add that watching yourself on camera is one of the hardest feats EVER, and tape recorders are one of the best inventions ever created.  I will admit that a lot of this list are things I already knew somewhat or would have found out anyway.  I just list them because reflection of these thoughts tend to conjure memories of speech more than anything else. 


What have you learned from speech or even debate?  Should we make this a "100 things" list, haha?  Add on!   


i learned how to read some of the worst chicken-scratch imaginable, so i could read some of the most helpful comments possible (THANKS JUDGES!!!!!!).

i also learned what it feels like to not see the sun all day long.

Suits look exceptionally well on Scotsmen with Connery-style annunciation ;)

Speech/Debate is also good for learning how to be a good, graceful "loser," and taking an experience to improve your abilities to win next time!

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