180: MMM – On Talking to Walls (An Ode to High School Speech)


Recently, the National Speech and Debate tournament took place in Florida. I have been reflecting on when I had the opportunity to participate in this very tournament during my high school speech days – and I won! I was awarded the National Championship of Original Oratory. My coaches were incredible during this experience and helped so much! When reflecting on this time, I had the chance to truly realize how crucial this moment was to the path that led me to where I am today. I learned so much from speech and how special it really is. With that being said, I dedicated this episode as an ode to the high school sport that shaped who I am today – speech!

Some of you may know a lot about speech or nothing at all. For those of you who have more experience with speech, you share an understanding for how special it really is. If you don’t know much about it, you may have some misconceptions. Some of the most important takeaways to understand about this sport is that a lot of long hours and hard work is dedicated to mastering your craft. For us speech geeks, countless hours are put toward perfecting those ideas that are so worth sharing. From learning how to act in front of a crowd, and mastering how to share those messages that matter the most, the one’s who participate in speech carry what they learn through everything life may throw their way.

An Ode to Speech:

“Speech. Speech geeks. Where you at right now? Probably on a bus. Doing tongue twisters. ‘Betty-botter-bought-some-butter.' Talking to a wall. Pacing the halls. Pouring our hearts out to quiet rooms with silent judges. Working for the one. The 1,100. The list goes up, trails down the wall in giant anonymous numbers – 26351 or 89456 or 94309. That’s your number. Screams of delight. The thrill of the final round. If you’re number 1 start strong, if you’re number 8 you have got to land it well. If you’re speaking in-between, you’ve got to make it memorable so you don’t blend in. We put in more time than any sport, for a longer season, to a less enthusiastic crowd. And, why? Because we have a story to share. An idea worth spreading, which by the way, we were saying long before Ted. On a quest to do our very best. Compete against the very best and get a glimpse of what we are really capable of. Speech, you finessed my speaking and stage skills. You taught me to write and deliver a persuasive argument that matters. You taught this clumsy goofball some poise, and that is sayin’ something! But more importantly, you taught me that my job as a speaker is to show up, be seen, speak my truth, compete with integrity and joy, and know that you have done what you came here to do, whatever the results. My love to all of you speech geeks out there, I am with you.”

Thank you for everything, Speech!

Check out the Duo of my friend's daughter, Reese, as she performs in the National Final round of Dramatic Duo. Amazing! So so so so good.


If you're interested in reading about my dedication to my high school speech coaches, Pam and Joe Wycoff, you can read it here. <3


Sally ZimneyComment