Tips for Nationals #13: Don’t Let Anything Shake You

Posted by Natalie 

My old speech coach used to tell me that it wasn’t the fancy stuff that always helped you win, it was “hitting your free throws.” Essentially, hitting all the basic skills and not faltering when all of the pressure is placed on you.

You’ve gotten to nationals, so you’re definitely skilled. But what sets apart those who succeed from those who don’t is an amount of control in everything you do. You can’t let nerves get the better of you. You need to stay focused and controlled no matter what happens. I don’t care if you spill a water bottle in the judge’s lap when shaking their hand (happened to me), I don’t care if you lose your visual aids up until right before the round (also happened to me), I don’t care if you are running late to your round because the entire tournament is running behind (this too happened to me, many times), you are in control of yourself.

By this point you should be prepared, you should be polished, you should feel confident going in. But don’t let that confidence leave you because something goes wrong. Instead, focus on the speech or debate round in front of you, accomplish that, and leave the results up to the judge. You can’t control the circumstances around you, but you can control how you respond to them. So stay focused and hit those free throws.

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