A Simple Protocol – Don’t “Tag” the TAG!

Name tagThis is the 15th consecutive year that I have attended a national speech and debate tournament as a coach with some of my own children, students or both.  It is a privilege to be there and always one of the best opportunities to learn more about competitive forensics. The tournament begins with a simple protocol.

During registration, at the onset of any tournament – not just at the national invitational, each competitor is outfitted with a nametag. Sounds easy enough, but in the last several years I have heard endless questions and comments about this item. Here’s my take.

DO NOT MENTION YOUR NAMETAG AGAIN ONCE YOU HAVE PUT IT ON.  At the beginning of your speeches, do not begin by asking, “Do the judges mind if I remove my nametag?”  I repeat, do NOT say this. Do not ask the judges for anything, especially a favor regarding your nametag. Judges only have a couple of minutes to record your name and arrange their ballots, and you only have seconds (maybe less!) to make your first impression.  Here’s a Forbes article with more startling stats on first impressions: Link  

If for some reason you fear that your nametag will cause someone harm (unlikely) or that it will create some sort of distraction during your speech (plausible but not probable), then quietly remove it without comment (be sure this is necessary), or just tuck it into your blazer/suit jacket without incident (preferred).

There is NO reason to draw undue attention to your nametag.  Instead, feature your message! Work solely to deliver a sincere, interesting, memorable speech.

Whew! I feel better now having got that off my chest (unlike my nametag, which quietly rests there).

The most overlooked item of any competitive dress code: your smile!

Practice smilingNow that we are in the season of regional and national speech competitions, students are assessing their wardrobes and tournament attire one more time.  No one should overlook one of the most important items we own. As the saying goes, “You’re not completely dressed without a SMILE.” Prior to attending Nationals (or any speaking event), practice smiling in front of a mirror and learn what smile suits you best.  Be sure to engage eye muscles in conjunction with upturned lips. Look natural and believable.  There is a growing body of research which explains the value of smiling. [Link] An appealing smile is one of the most important elements of a good first impression. It also is the first “message” of any speech.