Capital debate team succeeds in online tournaments

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Capital debate team succeeds in online tournaments
While many sports and competitions have been postponed this year, Capital High School Speech and Debate students are not only persisting, but excelling, in the current environment by competing in events using video conferencing.

The team took top prize in the speaking event category at the recent Tahoma Golden Bear Classic Speech and Debate Tournament. Tenth grader Charles Norris earned a first-place prize in the event and ninth grader Kaloyan Menser earned second place.

Public speaking in an online platform such as Zoom provides unique challenges, the students said. Over time, they have learned some effective techniques for speaking via video conference.

“First, you have to be very polite and understanding, even moreso over Zoom,” Norris said. “You have to be reflective of others' technical issues, as well as your own. Be patient. Be understanding. Technical problems will happen, but if you are communicative and open, people are going to work with you.”

It also helps to imagine your audience is physically, rather than just virtually, present, Norris said. “You have to envision the situation as if the person to whom you are speaking is right next to you, in the same room with you. That makes it a lot easier. It may sound counter-intuitive, but pretend you're in front of a thousand people and you have to make a good impression on all of them. After all, it could very well be the case that a thousand people could eventually see your interactions online.”

Body language and hand gestures are always a factor in public speaking and they continue to be important to do effectively online, Menser said. “It will make you more expressive, and your point and intention will hopefully be clearer and easier to understand. Also, going into Zooms with a positive mindset really makes it a much better experience.”

If the first wins of the season are any indication, there will surely be even more positive results in the tournaments ahead for the Capital High students. The debate season runs through the spring and encompasses a dozen tournaments in total.

Congratulations to all of the debaters who represent the OSD so well in these virtual competitions!