Speech and Debate has done so many things for me in the three years I have competed for my highschool. This year I am getting to lead the Jonesboro High School debate team and it has been the most fulfilling experience. My school only has one team that includes everyone competing in forensic and debate events or both. I have always only competed in debate events and had always been scared to try different things. As my senior year approached I realized how impossible it would be to successfully lead our team if I had little to no forensics experience. When considering which forensics event I should experiment with I felt like I should begin with something I could catch on to easily. I chose Informative speaking with this in mind. I turned out to be very wrong. I assumed since I had been able to memorize every lyric to every song in Hamilton, a ten minute speech would not be too difficult. It took a dumpster fire of a first tournament to realize this event would take hours of work and memorization. My only saving grace is that the topic I chose is extremely interesting and I love what I’m learning. My topic is LSD (recreationally known as acid).
I named my Informative speech “Mellow Yellow”. I decided to focus on three topics that were largely impacted by LSD. I speak about LSDs influence on culture, science and how we will use LSD to advance medicine in the future. The most shocking part for me was how GOOD LSD could be for some people. I read thousands of articles about how LSD was being used to treat blindness, PTSD, and even Bipolar depression. An article that really stuck out to me talked about how medicinal acid was being used to help treat eating disorders. The article, “Are Psychedelics the Future of Eating Disorder Treatments?” by Dr. Devon Christie (https://www.theskimm.com/wellness/disordered-eating-psychedelics?utm_source=newsletter_ds&utm_medium=email) helped me understand that there is so much we don’t know about drugs that have been deemed “bad” and “dirty” by the media. Through researching my Informative I also learned about how the Controlled Substance Act was used to vilify the anti-war left, specifically POC. The Controlled Substance Act was passed in 1970 by President Nixon to further the criminalization of drugs. The negative effects on minority communities are still evident today as a majority of incarcerated people in the United States are POC. This was something I was already passionate about so finding a link between the two issues was incredibly interesting. My deep dive became less about mastering the event and more about my genuine interest in the topic. I realized knowing information was more beneficial for my speech than simply memorizing it. For example, the fact that LSD was an odorless substance surprised me and although I never included it in my script, it always found its way into my speech. Another great way I was able to memorize my speech was by recording myself and listening to it. I decided that if I was able to memorize songs and movie quotes this way it may be helpful. I listened to myself give the speech on the way to school, practice, even on the way to the tournament.
I was shocked to be sent to finals in my first forensics event at the first tournament of the year. I was very unprepared compared to my competition. I realized I needed to make huge improvements to my visual aid and the organization of my speaking. It took diving even further into my research to figure out a way to reach the audience sufficiently. It took me attending a tournament and just trying it out to discover the norms for Informative Speaking. The last tournament I competed in I ended up placing third overall. This was a big improvement I was able to make over a short period of time just by observing, making changes, and finding what works for me. I learned ways to memorize extensive speeches quickly and how to use visuals to engage my audience. I plan on continuing to work on my Informative, partly because I hate to lose, but mostly because it makes me a better leader for my team.
Jonesboro High School