Why Introverts Should Try Debate?

Posted On 05.05.2017 | Arch Sharing

Whenever I begin working with a new public speaking student, I tell them a story about a presentation I gave when I was nine years old.   The assignment was simple:  all I had to do was read out a short story to the class.  Despite the seemingly easy nature of this task, I was scared out of my wits.  I was barely able to stammer out the words—by the end I was nearly in tears.   I tell this story to illustrate that a tendency towards introversion and a natural fear of making public statements doesn’t mean you can’t become an effective speaker.  I was able to overcome this aversion, and a huge reason why was my decision to take up debate.   Here are 3 key reasons for introverts to take up debate.

1.) Repetition is the best way to overcome nerves:  A huge part of the fear of public speaking comes from its unfamiliarity.    The more we do actually force ourselves to speak in public, the more normal it starts to seem.  This lowers the inherent stress of the activity, leading to a more confident and naturalistic delivery.  Debate provide a regular schedule of speaking that is ideal for this kind of positive repetition.

2.)Debate provides a clear structure for students:  Oftentimes students in my classes say they are unsure of when to speak and when not to speak, leading to a silence born of uncertainty.  Debate removes such ambiguity by providing defined times in which the student is supposed to speak and specific topics to focus on.   By removing a key barrier to participation, students are often able to find a voice they never knew they possessed.

3.)Success in debate can lead to confidence in other areas:  As your student grows in debate, the victories they achieve can lead to a complete turnaround in how they view public speaking.  Once viewed as a weakness, the victories can convince them that it is indeed a strength.  A student once mortified of class presentations may start relishing the opportunity to speak to their peers.