Speak for the Future

The skills learned from speech team are helping students plan for their futures.


The number one fear of Americans is speaking in front of a crowd. At one point or another in life, a person will have to speak in front of a group of people whether it be for work, school, or at an event. 

While there are many clubs in high school, speech team may be one of the most beneficial because it prepares students for public speaking. Students in this club practice giving speeches, skits, and other works of writing in order to gain feedback. Ultimately, confidence is gained by challenging one’s limits, all while having fun. 

There are many different types of events that a student can participate in: Extemporaneous, Duet Acting, Entertainment, Informative, O.I.D., Poetry, Humorous Interpretation, Persuasive, and Dramatic Interpretation. Students can easily participate in multiple events, and some of the events require more than one person, meaning events can be done with friends. 

Senior Alex Hagastad does Persuasive and Extemporaneous. Persuasive is a ten-minute speech that is used the whole year about a topic that he is passionate about. This year his speech is about how history should be taught in classrooms. Writing the essay before competitions allows Hagastad to review his word fluctuation and formatting before performing it.

He also does Extemporaneous Speaking, or Extemp for short. In this event, Hagastad is given a random topic and has to write a speech about it in 30 minutes, which can be a high pressure, but fun, situation. He is able to use the internet in order to find sources and form his opinion. Hagastad then has to read his speech to a panel of judges. 

Joining the speech team has helped Hagastad to realize that he wants to become a speech writer when he grows up. He would like to write speeches for a politician because he is very knowledgeable in the subject. 

“I really like the writing part,” Hagastad said. “The ability to come up with new things to say based on my knowledge of a certain topic gives me confidence.”

Junior Cole Sharar decided to take a different route when deciding what speech events he should do this season. Sharar wants to be a pastor, so he joined the speech team to prepare himself for giving sermons. He participates in Informative and Humorous Interpretation. 

Informative is almost an identical event to Persuasive, except the speech is not opinion-based. Sharar also opted to write a speech about a history topic after taking AP World last year and loving it.

“A common theme I started to understand was that history repeats itself, also known as the theory of recurrence, and so that is what my Informative is about,” Sharar said.

Humorous Interpretation is also the perfect event for Sharar, bringing out his charismatic personality. In this event, students take a book or a movie and shorten it down into a 10-minute summary, all while acting out the characters. This event requires a lot of creativity because it is only one person acting and no props can be used. Sharar’s skit is based on the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Ms. Hayworth can attest to the benefits of participating in a speech team. She was on her high school’s team, and it helped prepare her for her future job as an English teacher at Elkhorn North. 

“Everyone is going to talk to people in some sort of way in their life,” Hayworth said. “Speech team really increases your confidence in public speaking in all careers.”

Although the speech team practices only twice a week, they are often very productive. It is a lot of tweaking small things such as voice inflection and word choice. The coaches watch and give advice, and sometimes they will bring in a guest speaker that will also give critiques. This helps get a speech to perfection.

Alex Hagastad standing on stage after winning his state medal in Extemporaneous. (Photo by Alex Hagastad)

Practices are helpful for speech team members, but in order to make a speech top-notch, it requires extra practice. Hagastad, a state champion in Extemp, practices two to three hours on his own. 

After lots of hard work, the speech team participates in competitions during the winter. At the tournaments, members go to three rounds for each event, and then depending on how they place in the rounds, will go onto finals. The finals are where participants compete to earn points for their team.

This year, the Elkhorn North Speech team is doing a great job growing and improving their skills at competitions. Many of the members are new to the team this year, including Sharar. 

“Everybody’s doing really good,” Hagastad said. “There’s a lot of interesting topics and it’s fun to see them develop.”

The fear of public speaking continues to be the number one fear of people in the United States. The Elkhorn North Speech team instills confidence and poise within its members through preparing speeches and presenting them at competitions. Not only is it fun, but the Speech team is beneficial for all students’ futures.