Strategies: Platform Speaking Drills

platform speeches speech techniques Jan 01, 2021

Strategies: Platform Speaking Drills

  • One of the most common pieces of feedback I’ve given to Original Oratory, Expository, and Informative competitors sounds something like this: “When I heard your topic, I was curious about [a piece of evidence the speaker didn’t include]. You might consider including it!” 
  • After years of coaching these pre-written speeches, I’ve found that many inexperienced speakers don’t take a lot of time to broaden their knowledge base when drafting their presentations. They either settle for whatever’s on the first page or two of Google or over-rely on common knowledge. That isn’t the best way to go about things. 
  • Judges tend to respond to a three-step strategy: first, hook your audience with something entertaining or provocative. Then, make your audience feel comfortable by giving them something they expect. Finally, take your audience on a journey into more challenging territory by asking them to consider connections that aren’t readily apparent. 
  • Here are two drills you can use when constructing your platform speeches that can preempt common judge critiques about your research and example selection.
  • DRILL #1: SOURCE-STORMING
    • Share your script with a peer as a Google Doc.  It’s okay if you only have your topic/thesis idea ready.
    • Set a timer (5 to 20 minutes, depending on how quickly you can process information). 
    • During that time, find as many examples/sources that might apply to your topic. Take them from everywhere--popular culture, Wikipedia, psychology today, the news.  Copy-paste both the link to the source and a sentence-long description of what the source says in your Doc.
    • After you have a sizable list of sources, think about where they could go in the speech. Could something become part of an introduction/hook? Could this evidence help prove WHY your problem hasn’t been solved yet, or HOW to solve it? Not everything is usable, but two heads are better than one when it comes to research!
  • DRILL #2: PLATFORM SPAR!
    • Once you’ve settled on your topic and thesis, you need to think about the other side of things. If you’ve chosen a topic about a problem that hasn’t yet been resolved, it’s probably because a sizable number of people a) haven’t thought about the problem, b) don’t care that much about the problem, or c) don’t even see the issue as problematic. You need to convince them.
    • For this experience, you’ll be on the Affirmative side of a mini-debate (a SPAR). The resolution is your thesis (for example, “we need to disconnect from technology more often”). Your partner will be on the Negative side of that topic. 
    • Take one minute to prepare. Then, you’ll have two minutes to deliver a concise constructive speech in favor of the subject. Your opponent will then have two minutes to cross-examine you about your arguments. Next, they’ll give a two minute speech in opposition; you’ll have two minutes to cross-examine then. Finally, you and your opponent will each have a minute to conclude.
    • This technique will help you flesh out your real presentation by taking counter-arguments into account. Judges appreciate open-mindedness. Many national champions have a segment right before the solution section where they supply a disclaimer. “I’m not saying X or Y...what I am saying is Z.”
  • Hopefully, these techniques will give your platform presentation the shot of energy it needs to put on a magnetic, empathetic, well-researched show! 
Make An Appointment For A Free Info Session