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How to be a Leader on your Speech & Debate Team

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Whether or not you have a title and are an “official” leader on your team, you have skills and experience that are unique and can benefit the whole. Therefore, you should always strive to add value to every team you are a part of. Everyone contributing makes the team stronger. No matter how inexperienced you think you are, your team needs your help. Especially in a small school like mine.

Leadership can be demonstrated in many different forms, including coaching a novice in your event, finding judges for a tournament or offering help when you see a teammate who is overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean stepping on toes, trying to take over or criticizing those who are in leadership roles.

Here are five crucial skills for being a good leader:

  • Communication - When communicating with your team, focus on one-on-one communication. This makes everyone feel included and bonded as a team. Get to know everyone as you may find a quiet person who has great ideas but is too shy to share.

  • Be a Role Model - You need to show the team what you're preaching and ‘walk the talk.’ Team members admire those who lead through action and will work to imitate those behaviors. A good example of this is attending tournaments. If you go to tournaments, it will encourage other teammates to participate. Make sure you showcase the right behaviors, so you make the team better vs. breaking it apart.

  • Passion & Motivation - During these unprecedented times, you must remember what motivates you. Remember why you care about speech and debate. Share these thoughts with your teammates to show the value of speech and debate, including the life skills it teaches.

  • Respect - Respect is an important quality in every relationship you pursue. When both parties respect the other, the relationship will last a lot longer and build you both up vs. tear you down. Demonstrate this by ensuring teammates are having their ideas heard and discussed vs. dismissed or ignored.

  • Take Responsibility – Talk to your coach and ask what you can do. This will show your dedication to get involved and will help your team.

Following these steps will not only make you a good team member, but also make you a good candidate for an officer position.


Kennedy Marrs

Bentonville West Sophomore


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