Three Speech and Debate Drills from ModernBrain

limited prep platform speeches speech techniques Mar 17, 2023

At ModernBrain, we believe in the importance of networked learning communities (NLCs). In other words, we think education is better when teachers work together to share best practices and ideas. With over 50 coaches, we’ve seen some interesting, innovative, and helpful strategies. Here are three of them.

Drill #1: Break through writer’s block.

Oftentimes, students who complete a prepared speech (like an Oratory or Informative) during the summer get stuck later on in the season. When they’re bored with the delivery but really love their topic, they can be tasked with this challenge: using the same topic, but not re-using any analysis, jokes, sources, or examples, they must do a full rewrite of the speech.

In some cases, their full rewrite may be better overall than their initial draft. In others, the full rewrite may help them find one or two new examples that elevate the speech beyond their writer’s block.

Drill #2: Sharpen your spontaneous speaking.

First, Impromptu speakers test their associative thinking by openly announcing which example/story they want to give a speech above. Then, they’re given a topic to connect to that example/story. For example, if I announce, “I want to tell the story of Freddie Mercury,” then, I have to be creative when given the topic “polar bear” and give a one-minute example speech showing how Freddie Mercury connects metaphorically or literally to polar bears.

Second, Impromptu, Extemp, and Congress speakers can be challenged to give a new speech with minimal prep time after their previous speech—but they can’t re-use any specific examples or analysis.

Drill #3: Tweak your tone.

We help students break free of a "speech cadence/speech voice" (that up-and-down style of speaking that flows like a sine wave) by doing this exercise.

The 'speech voice' comes from maintaining the dominant emotion/vocal pattern from the introduction instead of adapting to the later content. To break free of that, the student must interrupt themselves repeatedly through every paragraph and say, "Now, I'm going to speak HONESTLY/ANGRILY/GUILTILY/etc."

This way, they think way more about the point of each sentence. Here's an emotion wheel to help.

If you want to practice these drills (and many, many more) with ModernBrain coaches, you can register for our classes now! Our spring 2023 classes are prorated and our summer 2023 classes are discounted (our max discount ends on 3/31/23).

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