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2014 AFA-NIET Semi-Finalists

Posted on April 07, 2014 by Stephanie Alderdice

Things are heating up in Arizona as the following competitors advance to semi-finals. NOTE - We've color coded each of the quarter-finals sections so you can better see which competitors are going 'head-to-head.'




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Being Competive and Remaining Cordial Between Speech Teams

Posted on August 05, 2013 by Stephanie Alderdice

Rivalries are everywhere: Coke vs Pepsi, Oreo vs KitKat, Mayonnaise vs Miracle Whip. Even computers and search engines get a bit edgy. It’s the nature of competition – two sides destined to meet toe-to-toe in a battle for victory.

When it comes to college rivalries, the public often immediately thinks of either athletics teams or institutional prestige. In its special feature on America’s Top Colleges, Forbes magazine decided to touch on spirited rivalries between colleges. While athletics, academics, (and some personal history) were at the heart of many of the rivalries, we were a bit surprised to see two speech teams listed – Bradley University and Western Kentucky University.

Part of it is the novelty in seeing major news outlets reference speech teams.

Another part of it is the word rivalry. It seems laden with animosity. One almost pictures audience members with painted faces and foam fingers screaming antagonistically during a heated D.I. round, “YOU CALL THAT A TEASER!?!” The idea of fans bringing vuvuzelas to an extemp round is terrifying.

It’s not uncommon for two teams that frequently cross paths to engage in a competitive tug-of-war. This happens frequently on both the high school and collegiate circuit. Some inter-school competitions are based on proximity, size, or any other shared variable.

The key to discussing Bradley's and WKU's speech teams, however, is the notion of being competitive and remaining cordial. The teams have battled it out for the AFA-NIET and NFA National Tournament championships for years. While both teams share a drive for success, it does not prevent the competitors and coaches from being gracious, polite, and courteous to each other.  Countless connections, both personal and professional, have blossomed between members of the two teams.

Forensics teaches us many things. We learn how to be articulate and analytical. We refine our work ethic and open our minds to new ideas. We figure out what to do when we achieve our goals or fall just short of them. However, this may be one of the most difficult and rewarding lessons we can learn from the activity: our competition is not our enemy.

Competition can be wonderful. It can push us to think creatively, perform whole-heartedly, and dedicate ourselves fully. Competition can unite and inspire a team. If we focus too much on it though, we lose sight of everything else. There is much we can learn from our fiercest competitors. But when we are too preoccupied with “beating the other team,” we can’t see all the positive attributes that makes our opponents successful.  

Life after forensics is full of competition. Channeling a competitive spirit in a positive way is a crucial skill to learn. What better place to practice it than in the emotional, articulate, intelligent, and fairly quirky confines of forensics?

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From Pinning to Winning: 10 Ways Pinterest Can Help You Succeed In Forensics

Posted on June 26, 2013 by Stephanie Alderdice


Every social media site seemingly has its own personality. Wanna get to know other people? Creep around on Facebook. Need to share your random thoughts? Tweet it out on Twitter. Prefer to express yourself in pictures and GIFs? See you around Tumblr. 

While I've had a Pinterest account for over a year, I couldn't shake my initial impression of the site. Pinterest seemed perfect for people who wanted to swap recipes, crafts, and wedding ideas. There was cute stuff on there. But when you're already committing time to other social media outlets (and probably more time than you should), a site needs to be more than just cute to earn time and attention.

If you're not familiar with Pinterest - the premise is simple and the site is easy to navigate. Essentially, Pinterest is a bookmarking site. A "pin" is an image that is accompanied by a description and/or a link to an external web page. "Boards" allow you to collect and organize your pins. Users can browse pins that are posted in a variety of categories ranging from food, drink, crafts, and fashion to science, technology, history, and literature. If someone has posted a pin that you like, you can re-pin it onto one of your boards. If you're browsing the internet and come across a webpage you want to save, Pinterest makes it easy to simply paste the link and post it to one of your boards. Most boards are public - but you can have up to three "secret boards" that only you can view. The Yummy Life has a great tutorial on using Pinterest, and there are videos to walk you through the process as well (such as this one).

Click here to visit SpeechGeek Market on Pinterest.

After trying to find a way to pull together all of the random links, articles, and videos for forensics I had bookmarked on various computers, e-mailed to myself, or screen-grabbed on my phone - it dawned on me. "Why not just put them all on Pinterest?" The site became the perfect organizational tool and a way to share ideas while collecting a few hidden gems. Plus, the Pinterest app is widely available for free on Apple and Android  devices. Need more convincing? Here are ten ways you can utilize Pinterest to prepare for forensics (listed in no particular order):

1. Save articles  and topic ideas for public speaking events. The first two on our list make use of secret boards. Sure, you may be able to bookmark an article on your desktop into a folder or e-mail the link with a description to yourself. The benefit of creating a secret board for topics are two-fold. First, you can keep all your topics together in one central location. Second, you can use the description box to leave yourself notes such as how the article can be turned into a speech topic or what person might be interested in reading it. By using a secret board, you don't have to worry about anyone stumbling across your great ideas.

2. Create a reading list of potential interp pieces. Again, another great use of the secret board. Sometimes you'll stumble across a short story online, but you don't have time to look up the author, search to see if and where its published, only to need to bookmark the site (if it isn't on Amazon). Plus, if your school is responsible for making the purchases, you're often encouraged to lump everything together. The description box, again, can be used to make notes about potential performers/events. By creating a secret board for interp literature pins, you're able to collect a list of options to return to when you're ready to order materials.

3. Browse  quotations to use as exercises  for limited preparation speakers. When you log in to Pinterest, you can click the red icon in the upper left hand corner of the screen. You'll be provided with a list of categories from which to choose. Clicking "Quotes" will allow you to browse and re-pin from hundreds of quotations. Whether you're working on impromptu, extemp, or debate - using quotations to practice analysis, interpretation, and argumentation is always a useful exercise.

4. Bookmark infographics  and interesting information for  attention getting devices  or examples. You don't always have to have an immediate use for a pin. I love collecting bits of trivia, stories, and examples. You can browse the technology, geek, science, nature, and history categories to collect things that are "neat-to-know." They can be added to a limited prep speaker's repertoire of knowledge or used as attention getting devices or examples in a public speech.

5. Hold onto inspirational sayings for team pump-up talks.  Sometimes you need to say more than, "Speak pretty everybody!" You'll find plenty of inspirational and motivational quotations on Pinterest to save for those days when warm-ups aren't doing the trick.

6. Manage a playlist of videos for performance tips and ideas.  Have you ever watched a video and thought, "That character is hilarious! They would be great in an H.I." or "I'd love to incorporate some of this movement into a Duo!" Videos can be great inspiration for performances. Use clips of celebrity impersonators to discuss vocal distinction. Cartoons are a great way to introduce basic, broad characters to new performers. Is there a cinematic clip that can inspire a dramatic performer? It's easier to hop over to a board of videos to reference than it is to try to search for the video you want (or worse, try to describe what you watched a few weeks ago).

7. Illustrate a variety of style options for tournament appropriate  attire. Research indicates that anywhere from 70 - 90% of communication is non-verbal. That means that to some degree, a competitor's appearance is communication a lot about that person before they begin their event. Most forensics tournaments encourage looking tidy and professional, but this doesn't mean competitors must spend a great deal of money to "look the part." A tournament attire board can illustrate a broad range of what is considered tournament appropriate attire. Pins on pairing shirts and ties, versatile and comfortable shoes, suits, hem lengths, and accessories can inform a student on what to look for or provide guidance in creating a professional appearance with the clothes they already own.

8. Hair, make-up, and grooming tutorials  can be useful. As previously mentioned, forensics isn't a beauty pageant but our appearances send non-verbal communication. A competitor's hairstyle or make-up doesn't have to be elaborate to be polished and professional. Still, discussing personal appearances remains a sensitive subject. A Pinterest board of "tournament ready" looks for hair, make-up, and facial hair can be an effective supplement to general discussions of what a coach or team considers competition appropriate appearances. Individuals can browse the pins for inspiration, ideas, and tutorials to achieve a look that is within their comfort zone without feeling singled out or embarrassed.

9. Collect remedies for tournament troubles. Speakers lose their voices, pop buttons, rip panty hose and face all sorts of other tribulations at tournaments. If you're lucky, you have back-up supplies in your bag. If not, it always helps to have tips saved from the DIY and health & fitness boards to help you out.

10. Add flair to tournament hosting  with recipes and decorating tips. Let's not forget the hallmark of Pinterest: recipes and decorating. Coaches have their hands full when it comes to running a tournament. Tournament hosting, however, can be an awesome exercise in team work and hospitality. Pinterest is great at providing ideas that utilize items you already own. Browse party planning and decorating boards for tournament theme ideas. Students can be assigned tasks from making signs to centerpieces, or even simple recipes to put in the lounge. There are plenty of opportunities for students to help host an awesome tournament while coaches are busy with entries, schematics, and running tab.

There's no limit to the number of ways you can utilize Pinterest in your forensics preparation. You can keep some boards secret but you can also share pins with other competitors and coaches. Make sure to follow our boards on Pinterest for inspiration, ideas, items from the store, links to articles about forensics, and anything else we think would be of interest to fellow speech geeks!

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23 Year Old Forensics Alum Running For Mayor

Posted on May 07, 2013 by Stephanie Alderdice

If you think about it, campaigning for public office bears a striking resemblance to competing at a forensics tournament. The days are long, you meet tons of people, you make plenty of speeches, and you're energized by a mix of passion, ambition, and nerves. And in the end, if you've been able to persuade the people listening to your message, you come out on top.

Hopefully the parallels prove useful for William Igbokwe. At twenty-three, Igbokwe is making waves as one of three candidates campaigning for mayor in Jacksonville, Texas. Described as "candid, thoughtful, and well-spoken," the University of Texas graduate isn't letting the age gap intimidate him. (Igbokwe is twenty to fifty years younger than the other candidates.) With the election on May 10th, we were fortunate to get a little bit of time to learn how forensics has helped Igbokwe on the path to public office.


Did you compete in high school forensics? I competed for Jacksonville High school on the UIL circuit in Texas. For four years, I was the only person on my forensics team. I competed in Extemporaneous Speaking and Prose Interpretation.

What skills did you learn in forensics that have helped you on the campaign trail? There are an assortment of skills that I've acquired through forensics that have assisted me tremendously on the campaign trail. The two that have been my greatest ally is the ability to speak extemporaneously and the ability to keep composure during high pressure situations. Particularly, the ability to speak extemporaneously has been especially invaluable. While on the campaign trail, I've been interviewed numerous times by media without any prior knowledge as to what these news outlets would be asking specifically (thanks, media!). Additionally, I also participated in a Mayoral debate where, again, there was no way to know what was going to be asked of me specifically, ahead of time. However, rather than trying to prep out answers to possible questions, I relied upon my experience in "speaking off the cuff", forensics style, to guide me to a solid performance. The ability to slow down your thoughts, control your fluency, alter syntax, and select powerful verbiage to enhance whatever point you're trying to get across to an audience is an art form I've been working to improve for over a decade. Fortunately, having been just one year out of college forensics, I haven't accumulated too much rust on that very important skill set.

What inspired you to run for Mayor? I've always been interested in public policy and the chance to serve as a public official. That is an interest that I will likely never outgrow. The inspiration to run for Mayor, however, derived from a conversation I had with a friend (also a forensics alumnus, also on the campaign team) about the impact young people can have on their communities. Eventually, that conversation evolved into a possible Mayoral bid for my hometown.-- I'm from a town with a population of roughly 20,000 people. In the last Mayoral election, less than two percent of the entire population (409 people) participated in the voting process. As a Political Communication major with the prospect of returning home a year before election season to launch a campaign, I saw an opportunity to help stir within my community a passion for civic engagement or, at the very least, an opportunity to help my community better understand its importance. I jumped at the opportunity.

If elected, what would be your goals? If elected, I have four primary goals for Jacksonville, Texas. 1. Enhance the city's aesthetics, 2. Revitalize the community's job prospects, 3. Promote education in Jacksonville to the extent that the community evolves into a pillar of educational success and overachievement in the greater East Texas community, and 4. Lay the foundation for what will be a strong relationship between city government and engaged citizens for years to come. My perspective on community issue can be accessed in greater detail via my campaign website, www.IgbokweforJacksonville.co

Do you have any advice for forensicators interested in public service? For forensicators who dream of public office, I have two pieces of advice. 1. Understand that every performance, regardless of genre, that you construct and deliver in this activity will in some way assist you in developing the core skills you'll need to succeed as a public official; composure, articulateness, the ability to address an audience, speaking extemporaneously, et cetera. 2. You must always stay the course. Seeking public office, especially if you are young and baby-faced, can be grueling and you will not be without your share of detractors. But seeking public office is a lot like doing well at tournament: You're often in a suit, you likely have a message, you certainly have an audience, and if you can convince enough of the right people that your message is the most powerful, the end result will work itself out.

And to anyone in forensics pursing whatever it is that makes them happy, you, as well, must always stay the course. People are entitled to their opinion(s) about whatever you're doing or pursuing. However you, too, are entitled to an opinion about your pursuit of happiness.

Fortunately, only one of those opinions matter.

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