Speech, debate, and mock trial teach students important skills

Because 75% of the population fears public speaking in public, we should actively promote activities that help overcome this obstacle.

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KE File Photo

The speech team has won numerous awards, and numerous competitors did not start out as strong speakers.

The first tournament for BSM’s Speech Team happened Saturday, January 13 at Woodbury, and with the season underway, it serves as another reminder of the importance of speech, debate, and public speaking activities in general.

The fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is extremely common—an estimated 75% of the human population struggles with it. To anyone that struggles with anxiety about public speaking, the idea of joining an activity like speech, debate, or mock trial will make them lightheaded. But these activities serve as extremely helpful ways to overcome this fear, and more people should be encouraged to join them.

Public speaking activities force people to get out of their comfort zones. Speech tournaments take place at completely new schools, allowing team members to meet new people, get feedback about their work from judges, and make new friends. It might seem absolutely terrifying to get in front of completely unknown people and give a long speech, or argue a case with competitors, but it is not as bad as it seems. It actually is more beneficial that one has never met the people he or she is performing for—there are no preconceived notions about his or her abilities.

Activities like speech and debate motivate students to manage their time well, effectively plan what they must get done, and provide students with skills that they can incorporate into their schoolwork.”

— Peyton Schuldt

These activities encourage hard work. For example, speech is an activity that demands much attention, but the hard work is completely doable. Additionally, activities like speech and debate motivate students to manage their time well, effectively plan what they must get done, and provide students with skills that they can incorporate into their schoolwork.

There are very few people that will ever feel completely comfortable with getting up in front of people and giving a speech—there will always be some anxiety about it. But participation in activities like speech allows students to practice more with public speaking, gain skills that they can use outside of the activity, and help bring the anxiety about public speaking down to at least a manageable level.

With huge sports like football and basketball tending to overshadow activities like speech and debate, the importance of these activities often isn’t fully appreciated. But there are multiple benefits of participating in these activities, and they provide students with skills that they can not only incorporate into their schoolwork, but any potential careers as well. Speech will never replace football, but the importance of the activity shouldn’t be undermined.