Stop, Look, and Listen – a Chance to Learn from Others

eee5112509cd8ab0686d462c1931377cForensics champions value communication. They recognize that the best communication involves sending AND receiving messages. So, it is worth remembering that we never go to a competition merely to “give our speeches.” Allow for the great exchange. Even though your own speeches must be ready for delivery, be just as prepared to observe, listen to, and watch competitive champions from all over the country. Any events that you plan to run next season are the very ones that you should watch at this year’s Nationals.  One of the best ways to learn how to approach a new event or become better at one in the future is by carefully watching other champions perform.

Renowned Tony and Drama Critics Award winner, Uta Hagen, explained it like this when she addressed her students who were about to observe other student performances…

“First of all, when you watch your fellow colleagues working, don’t be judgmental. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I like his work’ or ‘I don’t like her work.’ It teaches you nothing. If you really watch and identify with it, if something is convincing, ask yourself why. What are they doing that is allowing for that? If you don’t believe it, say, ‘That’s wrong; that is what I do. How can I correct that?’… then your participation will not just be [as part of] the audience but will be an active learning one.”

Actively listen. Be observant throughout the tournament. Flow additional debate rounds. Be part of the audience in speech rooms. Don’t just follow a friend into a competition room, watch his/her performance and then leave. Stay in the room and observe 2-3 additional speakers. [This is good manners anyway, and a requirement in some leagues!]

Acknowledge excellence. Meet other competitors and tell them what you liked. Learn from the best. You will become more of the communicator that you were designed to be by actively observing others.

We’ll be watching you!