Starting an Elementary School Speech & Debate Club

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Starting a debate club

Speech and Debate clubs are great ways to boost your child’s confidence and a great way to engage them early on in public speaking, improving speech and vocabulary, as well as encouraging leadership roles. The club teaches them vital life skills like project management, and working to be unbiased and see both sides of a topic.

The easiest way to go about it is to have your child become interested. After taking a tour of at a specialty school, I became interested after reading a poster about a debate club. I asked my mother several questions. Her response to me was, “if you want to start a debate club, then write down the rationale on power point and present it to your principal.” Sure enough, that was what I did. My mother gave me a few suggestions, but off I went with her to a meeting to discuss this after school club I wanted to start. I was surprised that all I needed was a parent or teacher who will be there at every club meeting to supervise and facilitate. My mother wanted me to highlight that she called a few administrators for their support too. Fortunately, since she is a leadership coach, she had experience and skills in the corporate world that all the students leveraged while she facilitated and led our club meetings and events.

After the initial steps of creating a club, you want to connect with some high school debate students that show up on a regular basis and teach the kids the skills of researching, collecting, presentation and portrayal of data. Then put up posters around the front of the school about the club to get new members. We had around eight members regularly and smaller is sometimes better so that all kids can present and argue their points.

Then next step is figuring creating an agenda for the meetings. Keep in mind that speech is a HUGE part of the club, buy a book of tongue twisters and have all the students line up and have them practice saying them in a loud clear voice (after introductions of course). Make sure everyone has a turn and encourage the quieter ones to speak up. Then split the kids into two groups from youngest to oldest. Then have each high school student go to one group and talk with them about what they are interested in and which side of the topic they want to argue; pro or con. It’s vital that the children get to choose their topic so they’re more passionate about it.

Then have the kids work at home on their topic. The more they like it, the more they research! Have at least one club meeting while they are researching so that everyone is on the same page. Have the next meeting be the date of the argument, there should be equal numbers of pros vs. cons and mix in some of the stronger speakers so that the quieter ones feel like they have strong support. While teams are presenting make sure to watch along with the coaches, everyone should take notes. All coaches should point out at least one positive set of feedback from each child’s argument and at least one piece of constructive criticism. Make sure there are no “winners” while you may think one side spoke better, you have to put these children in a growth environment where they are fueled by passion and not by short lived competitiveness. Then start the process over again at the next club meeting, it’s nice for the kids to be able to pick their own topic and feel independent and strong which all funnels into their confidence and individuality as a person.

Then at the end of the year invite teachers, parents, guidance counselors, high school debate coaches, and area administrators to attend the end of the year debate. View this as their grand finale, give them a couple weeks to trim and practice their speech. For this debate it’s best to do something relevant so that everyone can see how the children view a certain issue or topic, their voices aren’t always heard and this is a way that we as parents can help them speak up for what they believe in. It’s important to see the children grow and thrive each week, by the end they become much stronger, confident public speakers—qualities that our youth need to be developing.

Washoe County School District press release article on the Debate Club.

Blog by IRK

Blogging – how to get started?

Join the pad!
Several people have asked me how to blog and get a style, so this is a brief attempt to share a few thoughts around see one, do one, and be one.

• Consider reading and searching around the internet, on-line resources, books, magazines or libraries. What I mean by that is: simply spend a few minutes reading content from industry experts, peers or your mentors. This can give you context on styles you relate to and/or inspire you.

• Secondly. Just do it. Most organizations encourage learning. If you are reading this, you can look into wordpress to post a blog, so all you need to do is create a blog title, write down a paragraph, run spell check and post. Don’t over think it. Just do it. Take a few moments to share something you have recently shared over the telephone with a family member, customer, business associate or partner and try to ‘capture it’ in words. If you can’t do that. Record yourself or ask someone else to do it. Actually I find it is a good opportunity to self-reflect and learn about your communication in general if you listen to yourself speak or present.

• Seek peer input. I often find that if I ask for feedback that I will get it. What I mean, is be explicit with your friends, family, staff, peers or your management. Ask them to carve out time to give you their candid feedback on what they would do if they were you, who influences their communication approaches and/or areas they see as ‘development opportunities’ for you to consider.

Coloring outside the lines in marketing programs

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Coloring inside the lines sounds familiar, right?

Whether in the office, at home or in preschool, we often find ourselves being encouraged to keep ourselves focused, on track in results-orientated organizations. Especially for people working in global knowledge intensive organizations where there is a multitude of cultures, markets and relationships. Why? Because it is complicated. Information is rampant and often can cause angst if taken out of context and/or misconstrued. Which is why recently when I had the opportunity to discuss a Community Launch plan with Kelly Shelburne she immediately made the inference that with fresh thinking around integrated communications and leadership, anything is possible. She believes with the creation of innovative communication programs we need to work as if we are ‘coloring outside the lines’.

Her perspective and leadership communications philosophy was refreshing. She is one of these people grounded in ethical standards with a heavy emphasis on employee engagement because her philosophy looks at the audience, their maturity to the communication theme and any additional organizational context that drives business results. She has a keen eye to culture and patterns. She thinks about harnessing leadership acumen and the notion that people are part of an organization unit or family who all are in varying stages in their relationship with the organization. In a nutshell, she believes there is real power in engagement, and that when that’s truly and effectively harnessed, the possibilities are limitless. She believes in the power of people and of unity – and in the power of ‘One’ – both the ability for a single person to influence great change and the ability for many to come together as one to do the same, when they are engaged and aligned with purpose.

It was so fulfilling to me to hear someone talk about the importance to communicate openly in a manner to engage employees. Especially with an eye to fostering collaboration through blending traditional content streams with video with an eye for a well aligned strategy that enhances internal communications that allow organizations to reach goals. It then occurred to me that she is absolutely right. We as social business leaders need to look for ways that we can color outside the lines. People won’t judge you because you draw inside the lines. We have to be able to go outside the boundaries of the ‘lines’ and yes, there is some risk in that, but in both cases- you can make it look amazing in your own by infusing your style, your color choice or person voice. In fact, we also discussed a recipe for success to color outside the lines with change programs:

• Build alignment
• Invest in wide organizational relationships
• Build integrated communication programs
• Be intentional with activities
• Harness the power of the network
• Be consistent
• Repeat

Makes sense to me. Think about intentional activities that can feed into the larger plan which leverages nodes and leaders in the organization to help with messaging and understanding. Be rigorous, timely and generous with your time. The rest will come. Besides, who doesn’t want to go back to the sandbox and build creative castles like we did when we were five years old in the office?

Trust Your Journey Community

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For every woman that has struggled, questioned, realized, believed, accomplished and triumphed. What a fantastic tag line from the company, Trust Your Journey. This message is put into their products and inspires people to keep on keeping on. It is an inspiring message from two women, a cancer survivor and a young widowed mother, who have dealt with challenging turning points in their lives and discovered along the way that sharing inspiration and stories of hope are an incomparable way to give.

This mighty organization is based in Reno, NV and has for many years supported an American Lung Association, Northern Nevada Stair Climb. They sponsor apparel that the teams sports in ascending 36 flights of stairs. Rather appropriate for such a mighty effort that they would sponsor eradication of lung cancer and clean air advocacy all the while supporting their local parents who deal with lung disease.

I’ve been honored to have met the owner over the years, which embodies her brand in her demeanor, in her character and her integrity. I’m so pleased that I’ve met her on my life journey and therefore felt I should in turn share it with my network. Because it is really about the people as the medium that matters and this inspirational message and business duo sell something that is a vehicle to carry our aspirations, experiences and feelings through their product.
Often in our marketing efforts we find that our campaigns in traditional media lack credibility and these women collect stories and feedback through their communities which gives us a reason to have hope in business and in turn their products provide us with a sheath of protection.

I must brag and tell you that their products recently on QVC sold out in 7 minutes. They are not only ascending the Silver Legacy Stair Climb, but in business also. So, I hope that you find their storytelling in their products laudable.

Change Management, a required work stream in Social Business

The Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll
Break through results can only be realized in Communities if your social business strategy approach includes this work stream. Often the time and resources needed to do this right are overlooked or perhaps simply nebulous because we have to deliver on today’s results. It is so hard to insert the argument if your company views the effort as another tool rollout. So, just a few thoughts this morning around key activities in the change management work stream:

1. Do engage with HR to create the conditions or the environment for your program or organization to achieve results. Call it culture change or innovation – but do engage with HR.

2. Share key industry research, white papers or blogs with leadership over time so that they can learn from their peers outside of your organization.

3. Do what your mother told you when you were young – LEAD BY EXAMPLE. Requires a lot of effort, but do work across the organization and departments to encourage cross pollination.

4. Document, post, comment and work out loud in an open forum so that anyone in the organization can find your work at their moment of need. Yes, work out loud.

5. Invite, extend, flex and don’t let the trolls get you down.

As leaders of change programs, we must be continuous learners ourselves. What this means is that we should always ask for feedback, modify, pivot and adjust and adapt along the way. We extend invitations for new conversations and possibilities along the way, while making sure we don’t let any turkeys get us down. Most importantly, work across the organization with your approach so that this new social business program encompasses people, process and technology. If you hire vendors, encourage them to partner alongside the strategy, design, build and engagement work stream so that you can create the conditions that will allow you to realize the business objectives outlined as a part of your effort. And yes do consider thinking about Digital Disruption and Leapfrogging as concepts in your approaches.

HAT Trick for Social Business Strategy

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I grew up in Michigan where hockey dominated every day conversation. It snowed most of the year and as soon as the ice froze, skates were pulled out. Which is why I have drawn the parallel for scoring in social business strategy with hockey?
Certainly being persistent, repeating you and being resilient are characteristics we understand. But what I believe we must embody in our actions and words are:

Honest conversation. From strategy model development conversations to actual community conversation. We look in the mirror through social every day and we must be honest with ourselves, with our words, with our actions and our approaches.

Authenticity. We approach our strategy development and social business validation process with authenticity with our peers, our clients and our ecosystem with that top of mind. A shout out to many great thinkers in this area, including: Joe Pine, Brene Brown, Marcia Reynolds and Sally Helgesen.

Trust. If we do the H and A well in our work, the trust comes later. But it is paramount to successful dialogue, strategy development and conversation to establish trust. By the way, it isn’t monetized yet although people are trying to do so. Trust to me is something that is hard to achieve but easily lost.
Just thought I would take a few moments out of a busy day to share some secret sauce.

Courageous European Community Director

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Randi Hognestad directs community and network events in Europe. Based in Norway, this tireless community weaver has deep connections throughout Europe. She has cultural sensitivity and style. She is quick to engender trust, yet is fierce is pursuing business goals. It isn’t every day that you see a community manager resume with her background. She has a law degree and has worked as a journalist with Norway’s leading financial newspaper and with communication in private equity.
Today in celebration of learning on Community Manager Day, I decided to ask her about ‘weaving techniques’ we community managers should consider when developing cultivation and engagement plans.

1.) Demonstrate generosity
2.) Be authentic all the time
3.) Be respectful of the other community members time and efforts
4.) Be mindful that ‘language is powerful’
5.) You get credit for speaking other languages even if not ‘perfect’
6.) Embody cultural diversity
7.) Don’t be turned off if someone comes across not as polite
8.) Remember that not all executives are natural networkers, and may need some TLC to become engaged
9.) Mind the details in all that you do
10.) Be thankful

What I find the most fascinating about her educational background is how her competencies in communication and diplomacy align with those of high powered executives who quickly scale the levels in conversation. She is courageous, has a strong personality, quick wit, emotional intelligence which has faciliated her ability tend her networks. I hope you have the opportunity to meet her in person, because you will feel this great strength in her intense, yet tender presence.