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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USE THIS: Shakespeare Flash Mob

Posted on August 27, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice


Performances can pop up anywhere. Sure, most of ours take place in classrooms, or maybe in small theaters for showcase nights. But for folks in London this week, some iambic pentameter may sneak up in unexpected places

As part of the 2012 Festival Cultural Olympiad, running alongside the Paralympic Games, Tony Award winner Mark Rylance will be bringing "What You Will: Pop Up Shakespeare," to the streets of London. With locations being announced via Twitter, the group of 50 actors will spring up to perform selections by the bard, without costumes, sets, or props. Sound familiar? The diverse performance group includes hearing-impaired as well as physically challenged performers in celebration of the spirit of the Paralympic Games and the human condition about which Shakespeare so deftly examined.

Use this as an example of how art can (and should) happen anywhere. It's an example of how we can make something many people find boring (classical literature) something exciting and new. So if you find someone talking to a fake skull instead of a wall, or sounding more Elizabethan than extemporaneous, give them a high five for being a fellow friend of performing literature.

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USE THIS: Winning the Gold in Epic Literature

Posted on August 20, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

Sadly, the title of the post isn't some clever promotional stunt for the interp vendors in the market. Or is it? (Seriously, it isn't.) 

It's been a week since we were able to tune into competitors from around the world competing in gymnastics, track and field, underwater basket-weaving and a host of other Olympic sports. There are those who will wait patiently for the summer games to return in 2016. There are others who are more than relieved to only endure the games that often. 

If you're not a fan of the current incarnation of the sporting event, maybe you would have preferred some of the earlier events the Olympics offered, such as epic literature, chamber music, water colors, and others. While the Olympics once gave medals for arts, the practice was discontinued when it was dominated by professionals (something the organizers believed went against the goals of the games). 

Today, you may not be able to win an Olympic gold medal for Duo Blocking or Source Accuracy in Extemp. You can, however, use the Olympics as an example of how our interests evolve over time. Or maybe, we should consider bringing those events back as a way to encourage the recognition of international creativity. Either way, it's fun to picture a world in which millions of people tune in to watch final rounds of forensics being played out on an international stage. Yep, that would be golden.

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USE THIS: Marshmallows and Will Power

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

 Will power. Some people have it. Some people cave in. (I'm usually the latter of the two.)

Reading about the Marshmallow Experiment (loose nickname) involving 4 year-old kids and will power, it seems that the ability to delay gratification may have benefits later in life. Forty years ago, researchers gave each child a serving of a marshmallow, a pretzel, or a cookie. The kids were told that they could eat what they were given immediately. If they waited, though, they would be given an additional treat. 

Many of them had adorable conniption fits while trying to resist the marshmallow's fluffy temptation. Many gave in after several minutes. A few were able to wait over half an hour for the researcher to return with the extra sweet. The ones who demonstrated will power as children, as the Slate article notes, became adults who were better at planning, could handle stress, and were less likely to be overweight. Best of all, researchers found that will power wasn't a magical ability, but something that can be attained. Learning to delay gratification requires strategy. 

Speakers, the Marshmallow Experiment can be a great example that illustrates the power of temptation and the benefit of will power. Interpers, check out the more detailed account in The New Yorker. Maybe you can channel the kids' reactions to temptation ("Some cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can’t see the tray. Others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal.") for your next D.I.

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USE THIS: How Eating Bugs Can Save The World

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

When you're lucky, tournament hosts have a bevvy of delicious meal-time options available for your snacking. Ooey, gooey hot pizza, ice-cold drinks, maybe there's a Subway (or, GASP! a Coldstone Creamery) within walking distance of competition. Happy bellies beget happy competitors.

Or, maybe there's a vending machine that isn't broken and you can cram down 2-3 peanut butter crackers by a water fountain before Extemp prep begins. You're hungry for success, after all. This feeling is nothing new. 

However, Slate's Josh Schonwald proposes a couple of culinary items that may make the tournament vending machines more palatable in comparison. His proposal? Removing the "ick-factor" from eating insects and seaweed. 

He states, "This prejudice against eating insects—four-fifths of all known organisms on earth—is slowly starting to change. A growing number of people are beginning to recognize that bugs...may be the ultimate sustainable protein source." And while some people may embrace the abundant and nutrient-rich kelp, others are more than happy to leave it in Spongebob's backyard. He discusses not only the dietary and environmental benefits that adding insects and kelp may have, but reminds us that the other parts of the world aren't as reluctant as Americans to add small amounts of insects to their daily diet. 

By this point, some of you reading may be shaking your head and channeling Amy Winehouse with an emphatic, "No, no, no." That's okay. Despite some of the more creative challenges in reality competition, the idea of is still extreme to most Americans.

The article can still be incredibly useful for speakers. Use it as an example to discuss differences between cultures, or the creative ways in which people are discussing global sustainability. He introduces the article with a neat bit of history surrounding the lobster. Though it is considered a delicacy today, lobster was once considered disgusting and unfit to feed to prisoners more than once a week. Truly, it's an example of how time changes the opinions we hold. 

Speaking of which, did you know that October 14th is National Chocolate-Covered Insect Day? So if someone hands you some candy that day, just be sure to double check the ingredients.

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