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Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Growing up my dream career was to be a professional actress - yeah pretty simple, easy job. So in the eighth grade I joined my junior high forensics team, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Things were great, I won a few trophies, it was pretty cool. However, as I transitioned into high school and began to compete in varsity speech tournaments, I faced a large problem of reflecting on who I was as a performer. From my previous experience, I never struggled when it came to competing or even ranking in tournaments. Yet as I travelled to my first tournament freshman year, I also peed my pants from nervousness and soon realized that I had a lot to learn from the advanced, much older members I was up against. Again and again, I competed with no results (not even a single break!) and I struggled to understand the reasoning of my failure. I was in a very tough place as I watched my closest friends succeed with ease. Regardless of my disappointment I vowed to always support my teammates and friends who I had such respect for, for their performances and the awards that reflected them. I knew that if I ever got the chance to stand on that stage and receive a trophy I would be so unbelievably grateful no matter what rank it was. Eventually, I started my sophomore year and, with my friends ambition to “get me out of my shell”, I had decided to try a more difficult performance, a full 10 minute performance, By. My. Self. When it came for the first in-state tournament of the year, I went into my rooms understanding that every small victory is still a victory no less, and just semi-finals alone would be so awesome. Little did I know that that was soon to be my first trophy, for 1st place.


The greatest advice I have ever gotten is to fake it until you make it; and that advice is the BEST way to create confidence in yourself, your performance, and your speech. It seems cliche but it really fostered that change in my performance and my life in general. Not only did I see growth in my results, but I also watched myself grow as a person as I became more confident in who I was and the things I enjoyed to do. Here are some small ways to implement “fake” confidence in your performances:

  • Go all out, pretend you are performing on that national stage, in front your idol or someone in speech or debate you want to impress

  • Escape your mind, allow yourself to only think of your piece or what lines come next

  • Keep your eyes just above the audience if a full room makes you panic

  • Believe that you are as successful as you hope to be, fake as though you have won over and over again (don’t get too boastful) but just that ideology can boost how you feel greatly.

  • PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE (in front of new people!!)

  • Understand that students who are older/more experienced are not something to be afraid of and they can offer wonderful advice

  • Dress for success, even a simple power suit can make you feel so confident

As we approach this upcoming season, it is important to work hard and be flexible with the never-ending changes due to COVID. Regardless if you have the opportunity to attend tournaments in person or online, always keep in mind that you can do this! You can learn to use these changes to your advantage as you record or live-perform your pieces this year. And if you still feel nervous or anxious it’s okay, and know that even the best performers have lots of nerves too, but hey fake it ‘til you make it!


Sierra Watkins

Bentonville High School Senior

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