Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sounding Like An Expert When You Don't Know What The Heck You're Talking About

My heart sank to my stomach and started beating a mile a minute all at the same time. My throat got dry and my hands immediately starting sweating. I thought I had prepared well for this debate tournament, but there I sat, listening to the 1AC of a case I had absolutely no information on. The speaker was nearing the end of his speech, and I was supposed to go up in a few moments for cross-examination -- but I had been so terrified of the fact that I didn’t have any information on the case that I didn’t even pay attention to the last half of his speech. What on earth was I going to do?
Welcome to my first debate round ever.
As you may have guessed, it didn’t go that well. But even if my twelve year-old emotions went on a bit of a roller coaster, I emerged from the embarrassing debate round (and nurturing judge ballot) with some great lessons on how to keep your cool when you have no idea what you’re talking about. The odds are that if you compete in just about any limited prep speech or debate, you’re eventually going to run across a situation like this. So! Here are some helpful tips to prepare you:

1. Don’t Forget to Breathe
In a situation where you’re insecure about your own foundational understanding of something, it’s easy to get so flustered by the fact that you don’t know what you’re talking about that you can’t focus on trying to learn about the topic because your brain starts going a mile a minute thinking about all the potential worst-case scenarios and how terrible it is that your mom is watching.
Take a minute to breathe. Then begin looking for files that may have some sort of connection (if you’re in an extemp round), or listen carefully to your opponent’s case and search for weak points in the evidence (if you’re in a debate round). The main idea is that once you are able to focus, you can start critically and creatively thinking about how to respond; taking a minute to calm yourself is key to having the ability to focus.

2. Less is More
One of the biggest problems I had to overcome when I was flustered about something in a speech was my tendency to over-explain. If I didn’t think I had enough to say, my default response was to speed up my speaking pace (out of nervousness) and talk myself in circles. Try to remember that less is more. So heed tip #1 -- breathe -- and consolidate your sentences. Speak in general terms about the topic you are addressing, and draw conclusions based on your understanding of the topic’s premises. It is much better to make inferences from your general understanding of a topic than it is to make up specifics and roll with them (this would be especially bad if you find out that your judge has a better understanding of the topic than you do).

3. Don’t Undercut Your Own Words
As a judge, I’ve seen that sometimes, the most noticeable difference between an expert and a clueless debater lies in their use of “caveat phrases”. Caveat phrases are those that undercut or minimize the argument that a speaker has just made. Examples of these can be:
“I don’t have any evidence for this, but...”
“Even though the source isn’t qualified...”
Let your opposition make arguments against your arguments. Your job is to give strength and credibility to your arguments, not to minimize them.

4. Smile
Honestly, looking calm is half the battle. If you can convince your judge that you’re confident in your own answers, your judge will likely absorb some of that confidence and trust that what you’re saying is credible. Nonverbals play a HUGE role in this. If you are whispering frantically at the prep-table, or nervously adjusting your suit while speaking, your judge is not going to believe that you are an expert. A kind, but confident smile, a firm handshake, and a steady posture can sometimes indicate more to a judge about your credibility than your actual words can.

Whether it’s your first debate round ever, or you’ve been involved in public speaking for years, you will probably be required to speak on topics that you are unfamiliar with. It’s not the end of the world. You can still sound like an expert, even if you have absolutely no idea what the heck you’re talking about.

Bethany is a 19-year-old from Riverside, CA. She enjoys hiking, horseback riding, writing music, painting, and reading. Her favorite subjects are Humanities and Moral Philosophy. In Team Policy Debate, she has placed 8th place at the Modesto Tournament, 7th place at the San Diego tournament, 5th place at the National Invitational Tournament of Champions, and 1st place at the CLASH tournament of San Jose. Currently, she is working on a Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders, after which she hopes to attend graduate school and work as a Speech Language Pathologist. Her plan is to help those with speech disorders to be able to pursue the same speech skills that she was able to develop in high school debate.

Don’t Let Down-Time Get You Down

One of my most memorable tournament memories comes from a cute but foolish idea. Want to hear it? Although I was competing in debate and five speech events, I had spare time in between rounds. I spent one of those sections of time singing and reenacting the duel scene from “The Phantom of the Opera” with my best friend for about an hour. Although it was fun, I was exhausted for the rest of the day’s rounds. Even the busiest debaters have a few spare moments between rounds. How you use your free time is up to you, but ultimately, down time at debate tournaments should revolve around refreshing yourself to prepare for the next round.

Here are a few do’s and don’t’s for down-time success.

Don’t exhaust yourself out of the round: it will not pay off in round. Speaking and debating together form a marathon that sucks a lot of energy out of you. If you do not preserve your energy during your downtime, your upcoming rounds may be a little too lifeless for success. How do you avoid exhaustion during downtime?

Don’t stress about the rounds behind you. Tempting as it is to criticize your every word spoken and breath taken during the previous round, it destroys your confidence and wastes mental energy. The past is the past; you cannot change it and God planned the preceding round for your special benefit. You can change the future, however, by resting well and preparing well. That’s where the second tip about avoiding exhaustion comes in.

Prepare what you need to. If you encountered a new argument in the last round that is surprising, talk to some friends, call up your debate coach, get ready to face the argument again if need be.

Relax about the future rounds. You may become completely tongue-tied, the timer may mess up totally, and an asteroid might interrupt your speech, – however, most of your worries probably will prove blissfully fruitless. As Mark Twain said, “I have had many troubles in my life, most of which I have never experienced.” I found that worrying about the future made the present miserable and stifled my ability to excel.

Feel free to frolic frivolously but efficiently (okay, I just had to write that sentence; ‘twas too much fun to mentally say.) Resting your brain will enliven it for the next round. Laugh! Hug some friends! Eat something yummy! Take a nap!

Take care of physical needs to rejuvenate yourself. I often found tournaments so exciting that I would forget to eat or go to the bathroom. Eating and drinking, taking restroom trips, and refreshing makeup (for girls) are essential for maintaining your physical wellbeing. Your performance will fall short of your full potential unless you are well fed, well hydrated, and well groomed.

Esther Grace,  a 17-year-old student of Patrick Henry College,  is a shameless nerd and lover of life.  She rejoices in theology, music, friendship, and bunnies. 
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Somebody’s Watching Me: the Importance of a Good Attitude Outside the Round

They’re in the lobby. They’re in the bathroom. They’re in the lunch line. They’re in ballot distribution, judge orientation, and ballot return. They’re in the hospitality room. They’re even in the hangout room. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!!!!!  Who are they? Your judges. 

(Feel judged, yet?)

You never know who could be your judge. That nice man who helped carry your debate boxes or that parent you ignored. Whoever your judge may be, he or she could very well be watching you at any point in the tournament, and what they see could affect their judgment. Speakers should be certain to have polite and courteous interaction with adults, their friends, and fellow competitors at a tournament.

 1) Interaction with Adults
The golden rule of interactions with parents or any adults is simple: be respectful. No matter whom you’re talking to, you should treat each adult with respect. Even if you know the adult you are interacting with will never judge you, other judges are watching– you don’t want to give a bad impression to anyone. One way to be respectful is to show gratitude; all tournament staff members deserve a simple “thank you for your time and effort you have put into this tournament!” Also, if you see any adult in need of assistance, offer to help them! One time, I saw a senior adult in the women’s restroom unable to find the paper towels. After helping her locate the towels and thanking her for coming to judge, she smiled and thanked me as well. Little did I know at the time that she would be my judge in a debate outround and impromptu semifinals! You never know who your judges are. Be respectful to every adult, not only because it could hurt you if you were disrespectful, but also because it’s the right thing to do.

2) Interaction with Friends
The most popular place at a debate tournament is the hangout room. Full of coolers, snacks, music, and friends, the hangout room is the perfect place to relax after a hard round and prepare for the next one. However, you want to make sure you have the proper balance of relaxation, fun, and seriousness. While the hangout room is a great place to chill and have fun, you want to make sure you are still behaving somewhat professional. Remember, parents go in the hangout room too. If a parent sees you acting disrespectfully or causing trouble, that parent’s perception of you will be tainted, which can be hard to overcome in a debate or speech round. Make sure you treat everyone in the hangout room with kindness. That little boy you yelled at because he stole some candy? His mom could judge you the next round. The person whose suit you laughed at? Her debate coach could be your next speech judge. Be even more careful with how you interact with your friends outside the hangout room. I remember at a tournament one of my friends literally laid on the floor of a hallway– right as a judge walked by. I jokingly told him that would be his judge. I was right. 

 3) Interaction with Competitors
Speakers must be sure to treat their fellow competitors with class and respect. If you faced a debater that might not have been the greatest opponent, don’t compliment the speaker after the round, and then go tell all your friends how horrible he was. If you’ve ever had a judicial issue with an opponent, after the incident, don’t ruminate and tell all your friends about it. If you just had a bad debate round, don’t let it affect your attitude. Why? All of these things will have two negative impacts: 1. You will bring your bad attitude into the round. If you are feeling over confident in your skills, you will sound arrogant. If you have a particular bias against someone, debating him or her can become personal and the round can become heated. If you are discouraged after a debate, that melancholy attitude can easily carry into your other speech and debate rounds, hindering your effectiveness as a speaker. If you have a bad attitude about a competitor, it will negatively impact your speaking and debating style. 2. You will earn a bad reputation among judges. While people shouldn’t judge you by your reputation, you must realize that they do. If you have a negative attitude parents will notice and begin to silently judge you outside the round. If you are always angry with fellow competitors, they might be less likely to vote for you. If you are a sore loser, parents begin to think you are too competitive. How you act has an impact on the judges’ judgment. Be respectful to those around you– you never know if that parent is your future judge!

Rebecca is a 16-year-old from Pike Road, AL. She basically lives in speech and debate, but in her spare time enjoys playing piano and singing for her church’s youth praise team. She has won over 45 titles over her five years of speech and debate, including first place Team Policy at Regionals in 2011.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Killing Squirrels


If you’ve debated before at all, you almost certainly know the feeling of utter panic creeping into every inch of your body when you realize…you have not a single piece of evidence against the case you’re hearing. It is a given in Team Policy debate that no matter how much you research, you cannot possibly write a brief against every possible case—topical or not. To make matters worse, judges will very often only say, “I like evidence” when you ask for their philosophy. What can be done in such circumstances? Fortunately, giving up is never your only resort; squirrels can always be killed.

Firstly, make sure that you know the resolution well. You should become a mini-expert on the issues you’ll be discussing all year. Of course, you can’t know everything; but the goal is to understand the ideas, not know all the facts. While competing in Team Policy under the STOA 2012-2013 resolution of United States foreign military presence and commitment, I started off very ignorant. I did not have the time or desire to know everything about our foreign military policies. However, by reading the news, educating myself on military terms and warzone tactics, researching twentieth century wars, and learning about current military conflicts, I developed an understanding of the United States military. I could not explain to a judge exactly how a nuclear weapon worked, but I could tell them that Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal and why that is bad. This personal education is so, so important because knowledge is evidence. Even if you do not have a single card against your case, you have evidence and arguments in your head. If you are educated, you can easily make off-case solvency arguments and simple disadvantages against almost any case. (An off-case argument is a point that you wouldn’t flow directly across from a point on the 1AC; rather, it attacks an underlying idea of the case or a leg it secretly stands on.) You will also simply sound smart, giving you an automatic advantage in debate. Your job is to make the judge feel safe and comfortable voting for you, and you can only do that if you know what you are advocating.

Secondly, learn how to attack evidence. Off-case arguments will win rounds, but especially if you don’t have evidence to back them up, you need to mitigate the case as well. The 2nd negative speaker should probably spend most of their speech going through the evidence and explaining to the judge how it’s been exaggerated by the team (though be careful to not accuse them of unethically twisting evidence unless they’ve actually done so), how it does not clearly support their taglines or plan, how logic or current events contradict it, or anything else that comes to mind. Cast doubt on the other team.

Finally, stay calm. The worst thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to freak out. Not only will neglecting to relax speed up your heart rate and destroy your thinking capabilities, but it will detract from your professional appearance. You’ll shake, your voice will speed up, you will stumble, and you will lose your place. You have no need to get so worked up! When you realize you have no evidence, take a moment to remind yourself that this is what you have prepared for by educating yourself. Tell yourself and your partner that you can do it, that you have no reason to worry, and that even losing this round would not be the end of the world.

The next time you hear a squirrel case, don’t let panic take over. Instead, smile to yourself and kill that squirrel like Yosemite Sam takes out rabbits!

Brenna is a 17-year-old from sunny Southern California. She loves French, communication, psychology, school, and really big books. Her speech and debate experience includes five years of speech, four years of Team Policy, and two years of Parliamentary debate competition. She has previously worked for debate focused Ethos Publications and has taken national titles in all limited prep speeches for two years in a row. This year, she placed 4th in Team Policy debate at the National Invitational Tournament of Champions, as well as earning a place in the top five debate and speaker awards at all major tournaments. She plans on switching to Lincoln Douglas debate next year. 
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Speaking From The Heart When Your Heart Isn't In It

I was elated. For the past several months, I had lived and breathed all of the details and discussed them as much as I could.  The chronology, the statistics, the impact: I knew it all inside and out.  After nervously watching the clock tick down the seconds until go-time, I finally snatched at the sacred slip of paper with shaking hands and hesitantly turned it over.  When I was greeted with the words “Benghazi: sideshow or scandal?,” I was on cloud nine; if there was one domestic question I wanted, it was this.  During the 37 minutes that followed, I constructed and delivered the most intensely passionate, and subsequently the best extemp speech I have ever given.  
If the euphoria hadn’t quite worn off by the time the next round rolled around, it certainly did when I excitedly flipped over my next set of questions.  The future of plug-in electric cars held absolutely no interest for this politics junkie; I knew even before I started sorting through articles that my speech was going to be an absolute bore. 

After all, passion produces picket fences, as my Benghazi speech showed me.  For thousands of years, orators have considered passion an integral component to successful speaking; Aristotle even considered it to be one of the three keys of persuasion.  It is easy to be passionate about something you love; where your interest lies, there a drive will be born.   The fact of the matter is in order to succeed as a speaker, you have to have speak from your heart. Your engagement in the topic carries over to the audience, drawing them into your speech.  When you are captivated by a topic, others will want to know why and will pay close attention as a result.  However, when you are uninterested in the topic of your speech, it can be almost impossible to find that authenticity.   
Here are five tips on how to deliver an energetic, heartfelt speech even on the most tedious topics:

1. Make it matter 
One of the main reasons that speeches that lack passion generally fall flat and earn poor rankings is because they aren’t memorable. If your speech doesn’t matter to you, it won’t matter to the judge, they will have no reason to remember it.  When they are sitting the judge’s lounge filling out their ballots, your judges will be probably rank speeches they connected to highest.  
How do you draw judges into your speech when you yourself are uninterested in the topic?  Start by finding the impacts of the topic.  Why does tax reform matter to average Americans?  How does an over-reliance on gasoline affect the people on your street? By connecting privacy to the bullying of innocent school children, you have given the judge a reason to care.  Drawing on the hypothetical consequences will give you something to be passionate about and will make your speech memorable.

2. Be personal 
In order to deliver a heartfelt speech on less-than-intriguing topics, try adding personal stories or anecdotes.  After struggling to connect with judges, I began to give personal introductions or examples throughout my speech; you would be amazed at how my speaking style changed.  Sharing about yourself allows the judges to connect with you and gives them something to remember.  Being personal breaks up the monotony of an uninteresting topic, allowing you to show energy and excitement that otherwise would not come out.

3. Use analogies and illustrations 
Another way to generate enthusiasm both in yourself and in your audience is to use analogies or other illustrations.  For the most part, it isn’t the content of your speeches that will win you tournaments; it is the way you deliver them.  Humorous word pictures will give you a chance to express yourself naturally and establish a connection with the judges even when no one is enjoying the topic. For example, I remember watching a debate round on trade policy with Russia, which I did not find a particularly engaging.  However, because the debaters started their speeches with jokes and anecdotes, I enjoyed the round and had a reason to pay attention.  Using analogies and illustrations allow you to connect with the audience and give them a reason to listen to what you are saying.

4. Draw the judge into the speech
I suppose I have used the word “connect” much too frequently in this article, but that is because I cannot emphasize enough how important it is.  The simple fact of the matter is that speeches that don’t resonate with you are boring.  If you don’t have any fascination with hard monetary policy, having a debate resolution on quantitative easing could feel like a death blow.  The reason you would find the year a snoozer would be because the topic doesn’t connect to you.  In the same way, you run the risk of putting the judges to sleep if you don’t find a way to draw them into your speech.  

One of the best ways to make the topic relatable and prevent boredom is to take time to explain how the topic will or could affect the judge.  Tell them why quantitative easing isn’t simply an abstract fiscal concept but rather has pertinence to their lives.  Another way to connect with judges is to speak conversationally, making them feel that you are sharing enlightening news with them rather than reciting heady facts. 

5. Don’t let your boredom come through
Most importantly, though, don’t ever let your audience know that you are uninterested or bored.  This is a sure way to lose the attention of your judges and lose their ballots.  Vary your delivery and facial expressions, look for ways to connect with the judges and act interested.  Do your best to make the speech engaging even when you find the topic tedious.

Following the above tips certainly won’t give you a passion for a topic you previously were put to sleep by; however, they will help you to deliver a heartfelt, authentic and genuinely passionate speech every time, regardless of your opinions on the topic. 

Katie is a 17-year-old from Placentia, CA. She loves reading the classics, discussing philosophy and playing the organ; she aspires to enter journalism.  She has won Mars Hill Impromptu and took second in Impromptu at Concordia, won Extemp at the Inland Club Challenge, placed second in Apologetics at the Sonoma County Classic and finished third in Original Oratory at the Point Loma Classic. This year she ranked 15th in the nation in both Speech and Debate and 7th in speech alone. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

EMphasis: Making Words Stick


We’ve all heard super monotonous speakers before so I’m sure you can remember a time when you heard someone read or speak with little to no emphasis and it was the most boring thing ever what’s the problem here well nothing is emphasized everything sounds the same how can we fix this I’m glad you asked.

That is where this beautiful thing called emphasis comes into play. The fact is, those who find themselves listening to a speech with improper emphasis would not describe the experience as particularly pleasant. Emphasis is important. Obviously monotony is bad (see paragraph 1) but why? When nothing is emphasized, nothing sounds important. If you’re passionate about what you’re saying, you need other people to think it’s important, too. That’s why you emphasize things.

One quick warning: Some speakers are the exact opposite of monotonous, and that’s a different problem. 

These are the people who speak as if Every. Single. Thing. They say is absolutely the MOST important. Thing. EVER.

And that gets really hard to listen to as well. We’ll chat more about this later. The question we have to answer now is, how do I emphasize something when I’m speaking? What is natural or smooth? You should be employing certain tools such as these:

Did you know that the phrase “I never said she stole my money” has seven different meanings depending on which word you emphasize? I saw it on pinterest so it must be true. I’ll give you a minute to try them out. Finished? Cool. As you may have noticed, emphasizing the word “stole” implies that perhaps you intended to say she borrowed your money, but if you emphasize the word “money,” we assume she stole something else instead. Neat, huh? Inflection pertains to your volume, moving your voice upside down, and such. Your job as a speaker is to use inflection to further concrete your words into your listener’s minds. 

Tone has a lot to do with the intent of the speaker: Why they’re saying what they’re saying. For instance, one could say the tone of this article is somewhat lighthearted. I’m writing as if I’m talking to you, not exactly using a lot of vocabulary words, and really making this conversational. And intentionally breaking some grammar rules. Why? To establish that lighthearted tone. Tone is important because this is how you can really let your personality shine through. One of my favorite things to do in impromptu speaking was to start off by talking about a Disney movie, at which point I would sound super duper lighthearted and makes jokes and stuff. Then, I would transition into a very serious example, often a personal experience, and occasionally tear up while speaking. It was a completely different tone, and it helped get my message across.

There’s something we haven’t really come close to touching on yet, and that’s non-verbals, which pertain to anything that’s not your voice, usually hands and feet. The way you use non-verbals really depends on your speaking style. A lot of people will tell you that you should use what’s called the “speaker’s triangle,” which can be helpful. It’s actually less of a triangle and more like moving from one point on the floor to another and then a third point in a line as you transition between points in your speech, which helps differentiate where you are in your speech. Also, find a way to use your hands to mark what it really important. It’s always important to talk with your hands. Practice in front of a mirror to make sure everything looks natural.

Now that you know what sort of things you need to pay attention to in order to keep your audience paying attention to you, all you have to do is use, but not abuse, the power of emphasis. Not every single word you have to say is important. Find out what is. What is the one phrase or sentence your audience needs to remember? What are the simple arguments in its support? Where is your passion, and how can others perceive it?

Chandler is an 18-year old girl from California, who can usually be found at Disneyland, writing, or designing outfits. Her favorite subject is History and she would eat ice cream every day if she could. Chandler has participated in speech and debate for four years, each year qualifying to Nationals. Her senior year, she qualified to Nationals in eight speeches and Lincoln Douglas debate (wow). Chandler has written for Monument Publishing's speech interpretation sourcebooks. 
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Don't Waste Your Life -- I Mean, Your Speech!

Turn a boring speech into a life-changing message. 

Let’s face it. Sometimes, listening to a speech about taxes, the corruption of the financial sector, or why cats are the best animal on the planet (disclaimer: they’re not) may not be the most interesting way to spend the next several minutes of your life. Giving a speech like this to a disinterested audience can, frankly, be disheartening. Yet, maybe you are most passionate about the intricacy of tax law (one cheer for the debaters!), or have a reason to promote cats as the best animals on the planet; but there seems to be a disconnect between you and your audience (maybe it’s the cats thing). At any rate, how do you express significance in your topic? How do you captivate your audience’s attention and make your speech more meaningful? 

My humanities professor, Dr. Grant, has forever etched these words in my mind: culture is religion externalized. Essentially, he argues that if you take any era or movement, you can trace its earliest forms to a particular worldview or religion. When you examine different facets of that era -- be it government system, architecture, entertainment, etc.-- you’ll find that their origin was spawned in the founding principles of that religion. The main idea is that most topics -- however miniscule -- are ultimately rooted in a broader philosophy. 

Most of the time, people will be intrigued by your speech -- even if they were originally disinterested by your topic -- if you can succeed in showing them the bigger picture. Why does it matter? What values are you upholding? You can’t always be sure that your audience will relate to your topic, but you can almost guarantee that they will connect with a principle. But connecting the dots can be difficult, and the results can span from a beautifully constructed speech to a total train wreck. So, the biggest question that remains is how do we go about doing this? 

(1) Obtaining Knowledge - Research the History of the Topic
Take the necessary time to look into the history of your topic. Usually you can find interesting facts that will help relate your topic into a broader philosophy. For example, take the topic of encyclopedias.  A little research in the history of encyclopedias, and you'll find that the first encyclopedia was published because of an underlying philosophy that if mankind combined all of the knowledge in the world, they would ultimately know everything and therefore, eliminate man’s need for God. This tidbit of information can be used to show the irony that less than 200 years later, it is the encyclopedia that is obsolete, not God. This can be tied to the principle of the pride of man, and his finite nature. Sometimes, by doing a bit of research, you can stumble on a jackpot of information that can add much more substance to your speech. 

(2) Overcoming Obstacles - Establish Common Ground
When speaking on a topic that you are particularly passionate about, it is easy to get caught up and make assumptions that your audience will agree with all of your statements. What if your audience is opposed to your topic? The best way to pique the interest of opponents of your topic is to start by establishing common ground. In order to do this, you must know something about your audience’s sympathies. What do they value? Find something you commonly value, and start from there. But don’t make vast leaps -- be careful not to skip steps. Give your audience a pathway and lead them -- link by link -- to your conclusion. Oftentimes, illuminating shared values can bridge the gap between the audience and their speaker (you) and keep their interest. 

(3) Building Interest - Connect to the Human Condition
Philosophies address the human condition. If you can connect your topic to the human condition, you've just found something that everyone can relate to. After all, we're all human. Take George Washington, for an example. In impromptu speeches, I've often used the story of George Washington in the midst of the war, telling about how he would live in the midst of his troops, encouraging and persevering with them, without the excess frivolities that many generals acquired because of their elevated status. Although the topic was the military, my speeches did not inspire people to join the military. Instead, I used these stories to express the broader philosophy that oftentimes, the greatest leaders are those who serve others. This is a connection to the human condition. Perhaps your audience could care less about the military. But few will be able to say that they don't care about true leadership. 

If you’re going to talk about cats, then by all means, talk about cats. But don’t settle for a half-interested audience. Don’t waste your speech. Grip your audience’s attention by connecting the dots and linking your topic back to an underlying principle.

Bethany is a 19-year-old from Riverside, CA. She enjoys hiking, horseback riding, writing music, painting, and reading. Her favorite subjects are Humanities and Moral Philosophy. In Team Policy Debate, she has placed 8th place at the Modesto Tournament, 7th place at the San Diego tournament, 5th place at the National Invitational Tournament of Champions, and 1st place at the CLASH tournament of San Jose. Currently, she is working on a Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders, after which she hopes to attend graduate school and work as a Speech Language Pathologist. Her plan is to help those with speech disorders to be able to pursue the same speech skills that she was able to develop in high school debate.


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