To Persuade. To Convert. To Compel.

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I love FFA.

Therefore, I will advocate. 🙂

“Speech is power. Speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel” This quote, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, gives an excellent summary of the importance of speech and why we should push ourselves to become efficient in speech deliverance. We all should value acquiring experience and training in public speaking because it is essential in leadership, citizenship, and effectively expressing ideas to those around us. The Alabama FFA Association assists in preparing high school students in the area of public speaking by offering two main career development events that focus on speech preparation and deliverance. These two main competitions fall into the category of Extemporaneous Speaking and Prepared Public Speaking.

The category of Extemporaneous Speaking is a competition for the quick thinkers and those who are not intimidated by preparing essentially right before competition. The focus is to speak from a full mind and to not concentrate on memorizing information. The purpose of this career development event is to be able to express yourself on an unrehearsed and unprepared agricultural topic that is given to you on the day that you are to compete. You have an extremely limited amount of time to formulate remarks for the presentation.The topic that you are given will fall under agri-science and technology, agri-marketing and international agricultural relations, food and fiber systems or urban agriculture.

Participants are allowed to bring five printed materials to assist them when preparing for their given topic, but if they bring a notebook it may not contain more than one hundred pages of information. Each participant will be placed into a preparation room for fifteen minute intervals and at that moment they are given exactly thirty minutes to select their topic and to begin preparing their oral presentation. Yu are allowed to choose three subjects out of five and then you are able to choose out of those three which one you prefer to deliver your speech on.

After you have prepared you will then deliver a four to six minute speech. You will be judged by three different judges and also a time keeper will be in the room. The judges will score you based off of a scoring sheet that includes content, organization of materials, power of expression, voice, stage presence, general effect, and also your response to the questions that are inquired. You should be in full FFA official dress, which is explained thoroughly in the National FFA Manual and the Alabama FFA Manual. You are permitted to use notes in this competition, but if they subtract from your overall speech then you will have points deducted. You also only have five minutes to answer the questions from the judges, therefore, use your time wisely and your knowledge to the best of your ability. A participant maybe only looking to compete because of the experience and not be striving to compete at the national level, but remember this is a possibility; though there are five possible levels that you must win at to make it the highest level, which is nationals.

The alternative competition, if speaking off the top of your head is not your forte, is Prepared Public Speaking. This career development event will prepare you in essay writing, speech deliverance, leadership, and overall knowledge of agricultural issues. This competition is different from Extemporaneous for the main fact that it is prepared. You have from the day you decide that you want to compete until the deadline for your manuscript to actually develop yourself for the competition.

The first step to take is to decide your subject matter, and then begin to construct your manuscript. The manuscript is to be double spaced on eight and half by eleven paper and your content should be written in ten to twelve font. Also, keep in mind that you are using the APA format to reference within the text, to create your bibliography on the last page, and to create your cover page on the first page. Finally, your manuscript is to always be stapled in the upper left hand corner and never to be in a binder. These key details are important in competition and should always be followed exactly!

Each participant has six to eight minutes to deliver their speech and five minutes to answer any questions that the judges may have. Your scoring is based off of the lowest points scoring system, whereas Extemporaneous uses the highest scoring points scoring system. The manuscript that you write will be delivered to a person in charge by a particular deadline to be scored and judged prior to the day you compete. The participant’s manuscript will be evaluated on the subject chosen, content used, and composition of the manuscript. You once again are allowed to use notes, technically, but keep in mind they will usually do more damage than good. It is almost understood that your speech will be memorized, especially at the area level and beyond. The Prepared Public Speaking competition is called prepared for a reason and this is to be taking advantage of. Rehearse the speech, memorize it as a whole, and establish sympathy with the material.

The decision to compete in either competition is one that you will not regret. The experience that you will gain will help you take an active role in your community, classroom, or work area. As you can gather from this information, both competitions are placed to challenge and advance your abilities. Extemporaneous speaking requires a wealth of materials and specific information in your mind for you to successfully be able speak with confidence during this event; Prepared Public Speaking is for those who prefer to become significantly educated on one content matter and who want to know exactly what they are to communicate to their audience. As you continue through either competition you will become to appreciate the importance of the skills you are acquiring and begin to realize that speech is a powerful mechanism for professional and personal development.

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