You’ve Heard About It, But How Does the Gering Team Speech Work?

Olivia Longmore

Generally speaking, sports are more widely understood than other extracurricular events. The Gering speech team is well known by all watchful eyes in the community. However just as other extracurricular events, many do not understand how the logistics of speech works. If one is attending their first speech meet, it can be quite an intimidation. The phrases each speaker uses when talking about their placements can be confusing if you are uninformed about how the tournaments are set up. Speech can be compared to track based on the nature of how each event is separated and spread apart. Both track and speech have individuals place in selected events; their points are then pooled for the team to give school placings.

There are two categories of events in speech: rhetorical and interpretive. Rhetorical events are those where a speaker writes their own script about a topic and presents it. There are five different subcategories for rhetorical events including persuasive, informative, entertainment and extemporaneous. Interpretive events can be described as the “acting” category where students select a script based on their interests. There are six interpretive events: serious prohs (dramatic interpretation), humorous prohs, poetry, duet and oral interpretation of drama (OID). All of these events are individual with the exception of duet, which includes two members, and OID, which contains from two to five people. Students can select more than one event to compete in, but it is recommended that the students be involved in no more than three because of how the speech meet is set up.

In a competition, there can be upwards of three schools per tournament. Each person and event has their own code with a letter and number based on your school and classification of event; the codes change from meet to meet. At the meet your coach will give each student their codes and a paper will be posted on the walls telling students when and where their rounds will be held. Most tournaments will be flighted, which means that there will be two sets of division starting times. For example, the first flight round one will start at 8:30 a.m. while the second flight first round will start at 9:30 a.m. If competitors are in three events, they will have at least two events competing at the same time. This is known as a double entry and once they have informed their judge they are automatically moved to the beginning of that round. Typically, there will be two rounds for each event with six to eight competitors in a room. After the judges have turned in their ballots, the scores will be counted and a final round will be held for the top six students in each event.

In each room, there is one judge (final round has three) that has a ballot that gives them instructions on how to critique the speakers. Speech is one of the only extracurricular activities where strangers’ opinions are crucial to the success of each speaker. Since each room will only contain up to eight speakers, judges are asked to rank them from first to eighth. There is also a point system involved used to break any ties that may occur getting into the final round. The points range from 35 to 50 with three divisions of the point values. The first division is from 35-40 and is marked as good. The second is from 41-45 for excellent. The third is and 46-50 for superior performances. All rounds, prelim and final, and events are judged and scored this way.

Speech tournaments go on throughout the day, and are hosted primarily on weekends. Gering will be hosting the western conference on February 23 and district meets on March 9 at the junior high. So the next time you go to a speech competition or someone talks about their first and fifty ballots, you’ll understand what they are talking about.