Going into freshman year, Matt Fulle ’13 did not expect to participate in Seattle Academy's Speech and Debate Team. "I only joined because my dad wanted me to," he explained. However, what began as just another extracurricular activity soon turned into a four-year journey to the National Tournament of Champions. Matt claims that “after my dad forced me into speech, I fell in love, and I’ve done it ever since.” Matt has participated in both speech and debate tournaments, but says he has no preference. “I do, however, think that oratory is my favorite category because I have been doing it the longest and have the most experience with it.” In an oratory competition, the student prepares a speech on a topic of his or her choosing which can be either informative or persuasive. This speech is usually done without any visual aids or notes so it must be completely memorized and can range from eight to ten minutes in length.
For Matt, the process for writing an oratory speech is a lengthy one, but it becomes worthwhile when the awards start to arrive. “On weekends I have no social life,” says Matt. “There is a lot of preparation that goes into speech and debate, particularly during pre-season.”
A lot of the time, Matt finds himself writing his speeches during the summers, so that he’ll have them all prepared by the time speech and debate season arrives. Matt explains that it usually takes him up to four hours a week to prepare and rehearse a speech.
Matt, like most other competitors, begins writing his speeches by first choosing his topic and doing extensive research on it. Once he has a rough outline, Matt will then read his speech aloud to make sure that it sounds just as good to the human ear as it does on paper.
This is Matt's first year qualifying for the National Finals which marks a huge moment in his speech and debate career. Getting a chance to compete in the National Tournament of Champions is a great accomplishment for anyone involved in the speech and debate world.
In order to make it to Nationals, a student must earn two bids which are acquired at different tournaments throughout the season. Matt earned his first bid at a tournament in Tahoma where he placed first in Oratory. He earned his second bid by getting an "at large bid" which means a competitor consistently places high in competitions throughout the season.
At a national tournament in December, Matt placed third in Extemporaneous Speech. Extemporaneous Speech is where a competitor is given a topic of national, regional, or local importance and then is allowed a certain amount of time to prepare a speech. The criteria that the judges look for in a speech are usually based on the originality of the speech and topic, the persuasiveness of the argument, and the speaker’s diction.
This year the National Tournament of Champions will be held in San Antonio, Texas. Matt will perform the same speech that he has been working on all year, but before he will leave for Texas, he will continue to go to tournaments for the rest of the season to ensure his slot at Nationals.
One of Matt’s greatest challenges is making a speech that he has been delivering all year sound exciting and new. He says it’s important to understand why you’re giving your speech, why your speech is important and meaningful to you, and thus, why the judges should care or even listen to you. “Passion and energy level can make the difference between winning and losing. Energy level is key,” Matt explains.
We wish Matt the best of luck this summer as he represents Seattle Academy in the National Finals!