Did I ever mention that I was a debater? Yep. A Speech and Debate junkie. (I sure miss it.)
I got involved with Speech & Debate while taking courses at my local community college up in Vancouver, WA. I needed to take a public speaking class, so I signed up for Speech 101. (Gah.) I thought I was going to absolutely hate it. The first time I had to write, then give one of the required speeches, I thought I was going to die, then throw up, then pee my pants, then trip on my way to the podium... all at once. You know what happened? I didn't suck. The next speech was easier, then the next... I got more and more comfortable up there.
The professor, Dave, also ran the school's Forensics program (that's another term for Speech & Debate) and he invited me to join the school's team.
|Me with Professor Dave|
I must say that getting involved with the Speech & Debate program is probably the most valuable thing I ever did academically. You may be thinking "I don't give speeches, so I don't worry about speaking in public..."
Really..? Have you ever:
- Needed to give a toast at a wedding or a celebration?
- Been with a big group at dinner and been asked to say grace?
- Needed to raise your hand and ask a question in a large group?
- Needed to give a report in a meeting?
- Needed to tell a little about yourself when joining a new group?
Guess what? That all falls under public speaking. You should be able to do those things without needing a paper bag to breathe into.
You might also be thinking "I'm not running for office... why do I need debating skills?"
Really..? Have you ever:
- Had an argument with your spouse or significant other?
- Had an argument with your kids?
- Discussed a controversial topic with someone?
- Had someone question your belief system?
- Needed to explain why you are right (aka They Are Wrong) ?
Guess what? Those are debates. They might not come with podiums or moderators, but they are debates nonetheless. The thing that is great about debate is that it trains you to take a situation where your tendency might be to become agitated and emotional, but instead you can remain remain calm and logical.
The really valuable thing about debate? In order to do it well, you need to know what your opponent's arguments are. You need to be able to really listen to them in order to address their points. Think how valuable that is... active listening. (Although Handsome Hubby might argue that my skills are, um, slipping a little bit in that particular area.) Debate has also helped me to further define my personal philosophies, my thoughts on politics, religion, right and wrong, you name it. Sometimes my position is solidified, other times I find I need to re-examine my thoughts on a given topic.
As a woman, being able to present a persuasive argument was a real boost to my self-confidence. I felt empowered in situations where I might normally feel like I shouldn't speak up, or where I might worry my contribution might not be valuable. Although I have never been what you might call a shrinking violet (or even quiet), Speech & Debate helped me find my voice.
I remain close with Professor Dave. My family adores him and he has joined us for family vacations and holidays.
|My mom, Dave and me in Rome, Italy 2002|
|Camping near Lake Tahoe 2008|
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