Tip of the Week 1/12/15
Alexandra Chinchilla, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

"Losing debate rounds is hard. Rather than dwelling on that fact, use the experience of losing when the stakes are relatively low as an opportunity to learn to bear defeat gracefully. Later in your academic and personal life, you will face crushing rejections from jobs, relationship problems, and other failures which will test your character. Developing a spirit of resilience and a sense of perspective after tournaments, then, will make you a stronger person both now and in the long run."


Tip of the Week 1/5/15
Clayton Millhouse, Persuasive Coach (2014-2015):

"Going Beyond the Competition: Saying vs. Believing. This tip might be slightly more obtuse than most, but take the time to hear me out. This is the most important thing to remember when you begin to master speech and debate and when you leave speech and debate. When I competed, I reached the point where I realized that the crowd I stood in front of actually believed what I would say. What's more, I found that I could believe what I was saying, regardless of the position I was actually taking. Now do not mistake what I am saying; it is perfectly valid to know different positions and be able to discuss the merits of each position. That is one of the benefits of forensics. 
However, the problem comes when one day, you have perfected the art of speaking on both sides of an issue. Should the need arise, you can change sides on the flip of a coin. By now, you have mastered the rhetoric necessary to persuade the judge. You have the verbal power to sway the audience. You realize the pros and cons of both sides of an issue and you know the statistics and studies that support either position. And this is the problem: You realize you can effectively argue for anything with the right arsenal of research and studies.
I have seen this realization fundamentally cripple the most brilliant of debaters and speakers above and below me. In their speaking for everything, they now believe in nothing. From American foreign policy to immigration, from Feminism to abortion, from Christianity to God, these students have no solid beliefs for either side of the issue. 
You must do one thing to prevent this problem in yourself: decide what you believe. When you can, research and speak in support of your position. Yes, understand the counter arguments and facts. Yes, understand the flaws, real or apparent, within your position. But in that understanding, work to understand the shortcomings of the other side. No position is perfectly understood or supported. A statistic contrary to your position does not render your belief invalid. 
Use your speeches to say what you believe, and not to believe what you say. You can say anything, but you should only believe one thing: the truth."

Never give up.

Tip of the Week 12/29/14
Kara Stivers, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

"When researching, always be on the lookout for useful evidence, even if it's not within your current topic focus at the time. Keep a sticky note or word document open, and copy and paste any links to articles that you find, along with a couple of key words or phrases to help you remember what is on the other end of the URL. If you are reading a PDF with good evidence on a different subject, go ahead and cut the cards and put them in an uncategorized cards brief. Investing a little extra effort into your research practice by doing this will save you time in the long run, and will prevent you from having the irritation of working on a research topic, remembering you found something on it, but then forgetting where you actually saw the elusive information. Happy Researching!"


Tip of the Week 12/22/14
Haley Kirychuk, Impromptu Coach (2014-2015):

"Take every opportunity to receive feedback on your speeches. Perform for friends, siblings, parents, clubmates, and acquaintances. Just about everyone will have something (either positive feedback or constructive criticism) to share. Be open to others' opinions, while knowing that of course you make the final decision whether to incorporate feedback."


Tip of the Week 12/15/14
Alexandra Chinchilla, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

"Fresh from completing winter finals at college, I have one piece of advice to offer: persevere until your work is competition ready. Becoming a skillful debater or speech finalist does not happen magically.  Your success is directly proportional to the amount of work you put into practicing your speechcraft. Refine your script or case, practice your delivery, and seek constructive criticism. And most of all, don't give up--you can do it!"


Tip of the Week 12/8/14
Rachel Bechtel, Apologetics Coach (2014-2015):

"Give your speeches 'happy sparks': incorporate something you love, something you’re passionate about, or something you know is deeply impactful. In the most enjoyable and successful apologetics speeches I’ve given, I’ve either told one of my favorite
stories, cried through my favorite verse, or – the best – explained something incredibly wonderful about my favorite Person. In those rounds, both my judges and I knew that my rank came in a far second to the value of the joy I experienced through sharing my 'happy sparks.' As you’re getting into tournaments this year, don’t neglect those small, fulfilling moments that add life to your speeches."


Tip of the Week 12/1/14
Kara Stivers, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

"Two of the most important rules for any debater are to stay organized, and to always carry breath mints. Sort your negative briefs before the tournament, and create a table of contents, (or several tables,) to help you find things quickly and efficiently. Make the efforts after the round to put everything away correctly. It’ll save you time in the long run, and your partner will thank you for making their prep time easier. They will doubly thank you if you have good breath during that aforementioned prep time, so don’t forget to bring a pack of Altoids. With organization and breath mints, you can go a long way in improving the quality of partner communication during a debate round."


Tip of the Week 11/24/14
Nathan Wilson, After Dinner Coach (2014-2015):

"If you're having fun, then your judges are having fun too.  I've participated in and watched a lot of speech and debate rounds, and one of the things that really stands out to me is that the best speakers are enjoying what they're doing. I find far too many beginners compete in events that they don't enjoy, or are forced to compete in. This frequently turns out to be counter productive because you will build up a hatred and animosity toward your event that will be hard to overcome and limit your ability to grow as a speaker. And worse, your judges won't enjoy your half-hearted performance anymore than you do. Ultimately, if you aren't having fun, then neither are your judges, and you are really just making everyone, including yourself, unnecessarily miserable. In an event like After Dinner, where the whole point is to entertain the judges and make them laugh, the last thing you want to do is not have fun. So, for any event, but especially After Dinner, make sure you enjoy your speech and performance, and if you don't like what you are doing, change or just don't do the event. There's no shame in quitting if you aren't having fun. Find something you do enjoy, and go be awesome in that!"

Your Servant, 

Nathan Wilson

Tip of the Week 9/29/14
Britta Heiss, Informative Coach (2014-2015):

"Initially searching for a speech topic can be nerve wracking and time-consuming. If having a hard time choosing a topic, I recommend visiting the "New Non-Fiction" section at your local library or book store. Check out a few of the books, read the chapter titles, and pinpoint the main premise of each of the books. These books typically address current affairs as well as offer a perspective on issues. Reading such books is just the starting point to crafting a polished presentation."


Tip of the Week 9/22/14
Kara Stivers, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

"Don't be afraid to coordinate with people through case lists, brief trading, and research collaboration. No debater is an island, and oftentimes the inspiration that comes from working with other debaters leads to better arguments, stronger cases, and new strategy ideas. If you are competing in a national tournament, it's especially helpful to join a case list, because the benefits you receive from being able to research the other cases far outweighs the consequences of revealing your own case. Why? Simply because the affirmative team has the advantage of time and preparation on their side. If you have truly prepared your case and it is thoroughly well-researched, you should have nothing to fear from a case list because there should be few, if any new arguments that will come from posting your case to the list. However from a negative perspective, a case list allows you to mitigate the affirmative advantage by giving you time to prepare against all the other cases. This gives you better footing, especially against the affirmative cases that have not been well-researched or prepared, and trust me, those will undoubtedly exist at almost any tournament. Plus, your case will probably be on a case list anyway, whether you put it there or not, so you might as well benefit from it being there. Finally, brief trading just makes sense in terms of efficiency, and bang for your buck. Although you certainly need to check the research and ensure that it is credible and on par with the evidence standards of the league, trading briefs allows you to double your research output relative to your research input. More results for less work? Sounds like a good deal to me."


Tip of the Week 9/8/14
Clayton Millhouse, Persuasive Coach (2014-2015):

"How do you receive the feedback for your speeches in club? By standing there awkwardly until the coach is done talking

By trying to convince them that you've got it all down pat? Or by actually listening, but because your memory is bad, you can never remember what they told you? Here are some tips to get the most out of a coaching session: 

     - Come with specific questions about areas in your speech that you want feedback on. This helps to focus the coach's energies to help you, and you'll get more pertinent feedback that is useful to you.

     - Always take notes on their suggestions. This helps you remember their ideas.

     - If they have an idea for your speech that you don't quite agree with, discuss it with them. Maybe their idea isn't   perfect, but there is still features of the speech you need to change there. Work it out to make it the best you can.

     - Implement their suggestions right away. The best way to remember their ideas is to immediately re-perform the speech with the new material. You'll remember it, and you can get feedback on how well you've implemented the ideas.

     - Tell them thank you. This will make them want to coach you again. Also, bring cookies.(if coach is a college student, caffeinated beverages are acceptable substitutes.)"

 Be epic.

Tip of the Week 9/1/14
Alexandra Chinchilla, Team Policy (2014-2015)

"When starting your speech, skip the opening quote in favor of a piece of evidence that succinctly addresses your main point. Unless the quote is unusually funny and/or pointed, it just wastes precious time and bores the judge. Another way to sound like a professional from the first few seconds is to immediately state the thesis statement for your speech – as long as you don’t begin with 'In this speech…' " 




Tip of the Week 8/25/14
Elyssa Edwards, Extemporaneous (2014-2015)

"If you want to be one of the best extemp speakers in the nation, working on your files is pretty much a full time job. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of always having articles from multiple sources for your speeches. Have quote books and the CIA World Factbook in your boxes if you can for backup resources. Pull articles from the BBC, Al Jazeera, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Time Magazine etc. Make sure your sources aren't all American, all liberal leaning, or all simply newspapers. Cover global sources that have a variety of perspectives, and make sure you have expert analysis as well as facts."

Tip of the Week 8/18/14
Kara Stivers, Team Policy (2014-2015)

"Don’t underestimate the power of memorization! Although most people eventually memorize their 1AC, few people utilize this same tool when doing negative research. One of the things that separates a good debater from a great debater is a thorough knowledge and understanding of the topic. Having key facts and figures memorized, (such as the names and pronunciations of country leaders in the Middle East, population size, government types, etc.,) will go a long way in preparing you against almost every affirmative case, and will increase your credibility and persuasiveness with your judges."


Tip of the Week 7/21/14
Eddie Hoffmann, Apologetics Coach (2013-2014):
"Since this [is] the last tip of the week for the year, and the last one for me ad aeternitatem, I thought I'd deviate from my usual practice of giving a tip specifically directed toward apologetics, and give one that is applicable to NCFCA in general.  
      My advice is this.
Although somewhere in this world imperishable honor and undying glory remain to be sought and found, I've got news for you--NCFCA ain't gonna be the place.  In short, in a few years you yourself will have forgotten which awards you received, and if you've already forgotten, you may rest assured that everyone else has.  So don't compete to win, compete to learn.  Try weird things like doing apologetics without cards, partnering in team policy with your little novice sibling instead of someone far more experienced, or a new speech category that you know you won't be good at.  Some of these pieces of advice I took myself, and I wish I took the rest of them when I had the chance.  When you remember that no one will remember what awards you received in two years, it'll be a lot easier to put personal growth before trophies and impressive achievements for the resume and college applications.​ My apologies if you've heard this speech twenty times already; but I think that its truth can't really be emphasized enough.​"


Tip of the Week 7/14/14
Renee Jorgensen, Team Policy Coach (2013-2014):

"Take some time at the beginning of the season to read widely about the history of the topics in the resolution; don't cut cards right away. This background familiarity is your best defense against squirrel cases."

All the best,



Tip of the Week 7/7/14
Haley Kirychuk, Impromptu Coach (2013-2014):

"For limited prep speeches, memorize some general quotes to use as support or even conclusions. A wise limited prep speaker gave me this advice and I have found it to be beneficial. Quotes about success, leadership, character, change, love, and joy work well as all-purpose thoughts. Don't necessarily use these in every speech, because you don't want to be forced, but choose wisely and these quotes can boost your speaking repertoire."


Tip of the Week 6/30/14
John Bush, Team Policy Coach (2013-2014):
"Try to avoid being confrontational in cross-examination. Framing the cross-ex like a cooperative search for truth and understanding leads to a more helpful and efficient dialogue."




Tip of the Week 6/23/14
Clayton Millhouse, Persuasive & Informative Coach (2013-2014):
" 'The audience doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care.' You may have heard up it before, but this phrase is crucial to delivering a winsome speech in any category. Use your framework to not only tell the audience about the issue, but also explain to them why it means so much to you and why it should mean so much to them. Ultimately, you have to communicate that you are not simply giving the speech because you like to hear yourself talk, but because you genuinely want to use the information you have to give the audience key insight into an issue. Your mission is to care about the audience's lives and choices for the duration of the speech. If you cannot shake their hands afterwards and feel that you have made a difference in their decisions, you may need to reexamine your perspective towards your speech. This is not a chance to pontificate. This is a chance to impress the truth upon your listeners, so give it all you've got."



Tip of the Week 6/16/14
Danielle Fife, Team Policy Coach (2013-2014):
"As I have made the transition from competitor, to coach, to judge, I can not emphasize the importance of impacting enough.  An impact tells the judge not only why they should consider your argument in their decision, but also how the argument even fits into the round.  Impacts almost always determine the outcome of a round.  As an alumna, my decision in the judge hospitality room typically comes down to weighing impacts, their consequences, and their relation to the round.  In the end, remember three things:

1) Always impact all your points

2) Clearly link your impacts to your point

3) Remember to show how your impact effects the round and your judge's ballot."



Tip of the Week 6/9/14
Haley Kirychuk, Impromptu Coach (2013-2014):

"For limited preparation speeches, make sure you know what the first sentence of your speech will be before you start to speak. Try to use the time when you stand up from your prep time and walk toward the judges' table to solidify in your mind what you'll say to start. This way, you will sound calm, collected, and confident from the beginning and will make a good first impression on the judges."


Tip of the Week 6/2/14

Alexandra Chinchilla, Team Policy Coach (2013-2014):

"Don’t lose sight of the big picture in the round. This is particularly true in the rebuttals, when the round can get messy and technical. While you should respond to all of your opponents’ most important arguments with focused, specific, and credible counterarguments, you must also show the judge why your entire position on the resolution is worth supporting. In other words, don’t lose sight of the compelling (we hope) arguments that you made at the beginning of the round, and be prepared to sell them again in your final speeches."



Tip of the Week 5/26/14

Elyssa Edwards, Extemporaneous Coach (2013-2014):

"Most importantly, show your judges that you know what you're talking about. Give them the history of the situation to establish your credibility and then explain the current circumstances to show that you understand the situation. After you have done this, your judges will trust you and be much more likely to accept your answer to your question as reasonable. When you can establish this rapport with the judges, they are much more likely to want to vote for you. And, SMILE!"



Tip of the Week 5/19/14

Renee Jorgensen, Team Policy Debate Coach (2013-2014):

"Above all, keep the round clear. Signpost, go with the flow, coordinate numbering schemes with your partner, and when time is tight, don't use an opening quotation. Instead, take the first few seconds to say the one sentence point that is the big

upshot of your speech. At no point, ever, should the judge be listening to you and wondering how what you're saying now affects the flow. A clear round is easier to judge; it's also more likely to showcase your talents, and less likely to involve the kinds of frustrating miscommunications between teams that cause cross-club tensions. When practicing, ask your critiquer to

interrupt you whenever it isn't clear how what you're saying affects the round; it will be grueling, but worth it, to hold yourself to a higher standard of clarity."


All the best, 



Tip of the Week 5/12/14

Eddie Hoffmann, Apologetics Coach (2013-2014):

"Since I'm the Apologetics coach, my first tip will be specific to Apologetics. (sorry everyone who doesn't do Apol!) You can find lots of great resources for many of the Apologetics topics in the creeds. Using them as support for speeches would greatly improve the strength of the speeches. Many creeds address specific issues that apply directly to Apologetics topics; for example, the Athanasian Creed directly answers the question, 'What is the meaning and significance of the Trinity?'"





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Tip of the Week 2/23/15
Haley Kirychuk, Impromptu Coach (2014-2015):

"Something I'm learning in my music studies is that it's wise to practice in conditions as close to those of the performance as possible. Practicing in the concert hall, in front of actual people, and even in the shoes I'll be wearing at the performance are helpful ways to prepare. This works for speeches too. When you practice impromptu, give yourself exactly two minutes to prepare and time yourself as you speak. It's even better if you have an audience who can time you and give you feedback. Practice for parents, siblings, and friends! I remember practicing impromptus with my grandmother when she came to visit - she even thoughts of topics for me and we had so much fun! Simulate tournament conditions when you can. :)


Tip of the Week 1/26/15
Nathan Wilson, After Dinner Coach (2014-2015):

"Practice Like You're In Finals. 
Many students live under the mistaken notion that they can go easy in practice, and then suddenly turn it on for the actual tournament. Sadly, this is not how life works. The way you practice is going to be how you perform. I learned this first hand last year at Regionals. I was competing in 6 events besides LD. Because I had so many speeches I focused my practice times on the ones that I thought were weakest, and barely did anything for my stronger events. My worst event by far was my humorous, but I figured all the others had at least a chance of making it to Nationals. Instead, the only one of my speeches that qualified at the tournament was my HI. My absolute weakest event. However, going into that tournament I had practiced, and practiced, and practiced it, far more than any of my others. That experience taught me first hand that practice is the key to success. It doesn't matter how good your speech is. If you don't practice how you're going to perform then when the big day comes it will not go well. Diligent, purposeful hard work is the key to victory in any field, but especially in speech and debate."

Your Servant,
Nathan Wilson

Tip of the Week 11/10/14
Alexandra Chinchilla, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

"We've all been there—panicking as we face a tough case, or brand-new and skillful negative arguments. I've found it helps to have a routine for handling these stressful situations: first, I would take a deep breath, and then remind myself that I had done well before in stressful debate rounds. Find a strategy for managing your stress during the round, and I guarantee that you will become a more confident speaker."


Tip of the Week 3/2/15
Kara Stivers, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

"Around this time in the season, it can be quite easy for debaters to become so accustomed to debating certain cases, (both on their own affirmative and against common negative cases,) that they start to get complacent in their delivery for the judge. I often see teams begin to assume that the judge has as much familiarity with the cases as they do, and that assumption becomes evident in the way they complacently spout off their arguments, and make verbal and mental shortcuts in their speeches. Don't fall into this trap! During each round, always remember to look at each case anew from the judge's perspective, making clear arguments that do not assume any prior knowledge, and giving speeches that are passionate and purposeful. If you can remember to apply this "fresh eyes" approach to every round, treating each case as if it were new, (instead of something you've debated 20 times,) you'll be able to avoid the mid-season slump, and will consistently create an excellent debate round experience for both you and your judge."


Tip of the Week 1/19/15
Elyssa Edwards, Extemporaneous Coach (2014-2015):

"'Stick with what you know' is one of the biggest things that I have seen help students do well in extemp. It is difficult to fully research a topic in only thirty minutes, so if you are already aware of the background information for your question, you will do much better. If you can come up with three points with some information off of the top of your head, your speech will be infinitely better than if you are doing a speech on a topic that you are unfamiliar with."


Tip of the Week 2/2/15
Kara Stivers, Team Policy Coach (2014-2015):

“Debate preparation shouldn't stop when you go to a tournament. Record your rounds so you can watch and critique them later. If you don’t break, watch every outround and flow both the 1ACs and any good arguments run by the negative, making sure you take down direct quotes from both affirmative and negative evidence sources, so that you can easily find them online later and gain a jumpstart in your research. Finally, every negative round, make sure the 1N takes down a detailed flow of the affirmative case after their 1NR, so that you are prepared both for research, and for the next time you hit that team.  So go have lots of fun at tournaments, but don’t forget to also be intentional about using your time in competition to further your debate skills.'


Tip of the Week 2/9/15
Rachel Bechtel, Apologetics Coach (2014-2015):

"Be deliberate about using your apologetics skills in real life. Each time one of your unsaved relatives asks you how whatever-that-speech-stuff-is-that-you-do has been going, answer them with a discussion of your favorite card. Open the conversation to witness to them. Use your apol verses, concepts, and stories in your talks with your community college professor, the librarian, the person you bump into at Walmart. Not only will your future speeches gain a great depth of reality, but you will also start to see the incredible value of apologetics in action. Be brave."



Tip of the Week 5/04/15
Elyssa Edwards, Extemporaneous Coach (2014-2015):

"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading the headline articles of at least one news source every day. Not only will this verse you in what is going on in the world, but it will also provide knowledge of the background of events, which will make your speech even better. Continually immersing your mind in current events is necessary to be successful in extemporaneous speaking."