Public speaking is often a dreaded event, but there are some who work at it competitively. Seton Hall’s Brownson Speech and Debate team has excelled in a number of speaking events as a group and on an individual level.
On March 6, the team, comprised of six members of various grade levels and majors, qualified for nationals at the district tournament at Northern Virginia Community College and will travel to Gainseville, Florida the first weekend of April for nationals. The district tournament was the team’s last chance to qualify for more slots for the next stage of competition.
Nationals will be a different scene competitively for the speakers.
“It’s going to be so much bigger, usually you’re competing against 20 other kids in one category, but at nationals there’s more than a hundred other competitors in your event,” Jocelyn Rogalo, a freshman communication major, said.
The speech and debate team faces challenges and spend time researching their topics to then work to presenting that information.
“The hardest part for me is being really clear. I get so excited to share what I am excited about and I get carried away in my delivery,” Megan Ferguson, a senior diplomacy and philosophy major, said. It takes courage to present to an audience that focuses on every word being shared.
“It increases your self-confidence, but the hardest part is sounding like you know that you are right,” Erin Donovan, a junior diplomacy and economics major, said.
“I do some breathing exercises and I try to focus on all the times I have done well in a speech and remember what that feels like so that going into that round I have that confidence,” Donovan added.
Teamwork and support are the main contributors to the speech and debate team’s success. Ferguson said being around people that you want to succeed and that also want you to succeed is her favorite aspect of being a part of the team.
“It’s an awesome chance to do research that I wouldn’t normally do and share it with an audience,” Ferguson added.
Catherine Zizik, Director of Forensics has been leading the Brownson Speech and Debate Team in many different types of speech activities since 1985. “The advice I give my speakers is to think about why they are delivering their message it’s not about competition it’s about delivering an important message,” Zizik said.
Two of the teams’ speakers will be graduating this year. Zizik is currently in the process of recruiting six more speakers for next year to have a team of 10.
Margarita Williamson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.