Speech and Debate Team Shows Strong Return to In-Person Competition

Posted Oct 31, 2022

Otterbein’s Speech and Debate Team returned to in-person competition with an exciting weekend of wins.

The tournament, held at Otterbein on Oct. 8, had 11 schools participate with a total of 45 debates and 35 speech competitors.

Otterbein’s speech and debate competitors had a strong performance, according to Professor of Communication Susan Millsap, Otterbein’s team coach.

“Sophomore Emma Chapman went 2-2 in her first time debating in the varsity division. Senior Evyenia Smith participated in her first tournament ever and won a round, which is meeting the goal of your first tournament. Also, senior Jordan Hamzee participated in the Informative Speaking event and took fifth place,” she said.

Most of the students on the team are enrolled in practicum courses offered at Otterbein to help them develop their speeches or oral presentations, including COMM 1400: Debate Team Practicum and COMM 1401: Speech Team Practicum. However, not all members are required to take this course in order to compete in tournaments.

Millsap said speech and debate can benefit students in the professional world. “I believe that speech and debate competition is one of the best co-curricular activities because of its emphasis on critical thinking and communication skills,” she said.

The team has a long history of participation in speech and debate. Millsap noted that Otterbein’s chapter of Pi Kappa Delta, the forensic honorary society, was founded in 1924.

Since it was Hamzee’s first time participating in a face-to-face tournament, she spent a lot of time preparing. “In order to prepare for it, I rehearsed my speech multiple times last week and even recorded myself doing it so I could find areas that I felt like could be improved,” she said.

Hamzee said being on the team has improved her nerves when it comes to public speaking. “My goal is to improve my public speaking skills, such as delivery and eye contact. I also want to develop some more confidence when I am delivering a public speech. I believe that being on the team has helped me break out of my shell and helped me think faster on my feet.”

The team’s next in-person tournament is Nov. 5 at Muskingum University.