Putting the Spotlight on Speech

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Fiona Gautschi ’22 recites her speech for an upcoming competition

By J1 Reporter Agoum Monydhel

“As long as I go out there and make someone laugh, I did my part.” These are the words junior Kaylee Lahti utters to herself before she performs her speech. Why speech?

For junior Arij Khan, it’s about expressing herself.

For Lahti, it’s about making the audience react.

But for junior Shruthi Kumar, it’s something deeper. She wants to prove to people that while speech may be a male-dominated world, women can do it just as much or even better than men. Sure, they are all performing for as few as six people in a classroom, but for them they’re performing for multitudes.

However, before any of these girls can go up there and give the performance of their lives, they must prepare. Each girl has their own way of preparing for an upcoming competition or speech tournament.“It’s not something you can just get up there and read a script…you have to pop between characters, voices, and even facial expressions. You have to be able to tell the audience who you’re performing as,” Lahti explains. She performs in humor interpretive, an event in which competitors are judged on how humorous their piece is. On top of not being able to utilize a script during their performance, they are also not allowed the use of props of costumes, making it more challenging to convey their characters to the audience.

Kumar’s way of preparing herself is a bit different. She performs in informative and extemporaneous speech, while informative is just informing your audience about an issue, extemporaneous speaking that challenges her more. Extemporaneous speech, is an event in which contestants are judged on a topic handed to them at random. Now where’s the challenge in that? The contestants only have 30 mintues to research their given topic. Once those 30 minutes are up, they have approxiamtely 10 minutes to present in their topic. As interesting and challenging it may sound, it’s more than that for Kumar. Extemporaneous speech is mostly dominated by male competitors, so the challenge for her is more than just going on up there and presenting her topic, it’s about proving to guys that girls can do it just as well or even better.

Now they must put their practice into use at competition.The sound of heels, the smell of perfume and fresh printed paper. They each compete in small classrooms each filled with 6-10 students. Each contestant enter competitions filled with hundreds of students all aspiring to the same goals these girls have too…to win. However, other contestant’s speeches can make them feel very nervous, and often deliver a lot of pressure.

“The pressure is very hard…if I see someone’s speech is really good, I get a little nervous,” Lahti explains.

“Whatever happens happens…it’s fine,” Kumar said. Speech is also about improving oneself as well. Kumar explains that there will always be more chances, and it’s not always about winning. If she is able to get her point across to the audience and inform them on something maybe they didn’t know, then her job is accomplished. For Lahti, she improves herself based of the judges’ criticism.

However, they can all account for one thing: speech has made them become more confident than ever before. It has allowed them to express their theatrical side, or maybe it was their more informative side. Having the power to make people laugh, cry, or even be happy, is something they all strive towards, and that is what speech is all about for them.

12 responses to “Putting the Spotlight on Speech

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