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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:52 pm 
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Hey, I'm in the middle of writing the first draft of my BN speech this year. This is my first time participating in a speech event, (can't make classes) and I wanted to know what the biggest mistakes beginners tend to make that you've noticed.
I've watched BN's online and so far writing has been going great--just worried about making unnecessary mistakes that I (or my family) wouldn't notice.


Or reworded entirely:
What are the cringiest things the beginners do in BNs that I can avoid. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:18 am 
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A bit YMMV, and I'm no expert in BN, but overdramatic presentation always bugs me.

Compelling drama comes from the story. You need a good sense of timing and delivery, of course, but IMHO an overly intense, affected style mostly just adds cringe. You know the type: laden with adjectives and presented with the sweep and intensity of high Shakespeare, in an attempt to muster up significance from the words themselves. ("The cool, BEAUTIFUL summer of 1955 was an EXTRAORDINARILY time in the life of Dr. Blank, when he received the MOST AMAZING letter from...")

Of course, if something actually is "most amazing," and you can say so out of sincere enthusiasm rather than sounding like Lady Macbeth soliloquizing, then by all means, do it. I think if you pick material that's genuinely interesting, and write and speak as someone who is genuinely interested in it, the piece will carry itself.

(Just for fun: I'm rather fond of this comic poem by Billy Collins as a counterexample to the Shakespearean tendency. The deadpan delivery sells it.)

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:40 am 
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MSD wrote:
A bit YMMV, and I'm no expert in BN, but overdramatic presentation always bugs me.


This is dead on right! Some drama is great, and can really do wonders for your speech, but too much is just that...it looks like too much.

Since this is your first time competing in a speech event, the best thing I can tell you is: just be yourself. The biggest mistakes I see are the people who try to be someone that they are not. I learned very quickly that if you let your own personal style shine through, judges notice! Like with the drama. I'm not a drama guy...at all...and since my BN last year was on a political figure (Ronald Reagan), I really didn't have a place for it anyway. But, if that's you, or your subject, and you think it fits well, go for it! Same goes for everything to do with speech. Speak fast, speak slow, move a lot, gesture a lot, move a little, gesture only a little, the list goes on and on. Do what feels natural to you and fits your topic well!

DISCLAIMER: This does not in any way mean that you or I, or anyone, is immune to good coaching! A good coach won't change your style, he/she will help you bring it to light in the best way possible!

That's all I've got! I hope I was able to help you!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:31 pm 
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I'm not expert at BN's, but I have a few tournaments under my belt; here are the two biggest mistakes I think people can make:

1. Topic selection. I think the person should be extremely interesting with a profound theme and message. There needs to be a bigger message than "this was an interesting person."

2. Overt structure. A BN is entirely a story - it shouldn't have "points" or an overtly organized structure. Of course, every single detail should be well thought-out and make sense, but it shouldn't be too obvious. You should mysteriously lead the judges on, so that the judges feel a sense of wonder and curiosity at every part.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 5:36 am 
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BN was not a thing when I competed, so my only experience is as a judge. For me, the biggest mistake is not only the topic selection, but how you frame it. Too many students just pick something that they think is interesting without considering there audience. Why should I care about this person's story? What can I take away? And this is more than just saying "so and so had a lot of bad things in their life that they overcame, thanks to God, and used their trials as a ministry for him. I think that is literally the point of every BN I have ever seen, and it gets boring when you have to sit through 10 of them.

The second biggest tip I can give you is to find some kind of structure. Don't just ramble on in a stream of consciousness. Do the basic essay structure: intro, three points, conclusion. The contents of those points are up to you, just keep them clear.

Finally, pick someone unique that we haven't heard of. Your goal should be to teach me something with your speech, so think of the best way to do that. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:49 pm 
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Settota wrote:
The second biggest tip I can give you is to find some kind of structure. Don't just ramble on in a stream of consciousness. Do the basic essay structure: intro, three points, conclusion. The contents of those points are up to you, just keep them clear.


_idontknow_ wrote:
." A BN is entirely a story - it shouldn't have "points" or an overtly organized structure.

*・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・~'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*
But who do I believe? *・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・~'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*
*・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・~'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:33 pm 
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Hahaha that's really funny actually. It is completely up to you. As a judge, in PA, I prefer organization. This allows me to see where you're going and what I should focus on. It also prevents you from rambling. In my opinion, if you want to do a story, go write an original interp about them. Every BN I have judged has not had a clear structure and they all have been boring and rambly. But I haven't been super active in the community for awhile, so I may be in the minority with my view.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:25 pm 
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:D hehehe no, I'm really grateful for the feedback! thank you so much!
It's amazing how many opinions sprout from such a seemingly miniscule topic! Thank you!

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 2:18 am 
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Every well-told story has an underlying structure, though it may not be obvious. "Be structured" and "just tell a story" aren't necessarily contradictory.

If you're trying to decide how to structure your speech, here's something I find useful. Randy Olsen talks about structuring stories and presentations with the "ABT" model - And, But, Therefore:

  1. And: You establish a baseline situation.
  2. But: You break that baseline with a conflict, problem, etc.
  3. Therefore: You show the result of the conflict - its broader significance, or how it gets resolved.

This is basically the "Hero's Journey" model, but you can apply it to almost any kind of communication. Olsen argues that all good stories follow this pattern, often nesting fractally - i.e. the whole story is one big ABT structure, each scene has its own mini-ABT structure, and even individual lines within scenes may have an ABT structure.

Olsen argues that ABT is the sweet spot between two extremes, each of which wreck the flow of a presentation:

  1. AAA (and, and, and...) - All information, with no arc of conflict and resolution to follow. This bores the listener.
  2. DHY (despite, however, yet...) - A jumbled mass of conflicts and qualifiers that obscures the underlying ABT arc. This confuses the listener.

It's a continuum: AAA --> ABT --> DHY. You want to hit that sweet spot where there are enough "but then...!" moments to keep the audience engaged, but not so many that they lose track of what's going on.

So, if you're struggling to organize your speech, try using nested ABT structures - it's a quick way to inject some pacing and coherence into a long rambly string of facts. If you want to structure further, you might consider picking a few good stories from your subject's life and making those the "points" of your speech, telling each story with an ABT structure:

1. Introduction

2. Story 1:
--> Starting baseline
--> "But..."
--> "Therefore..."

3. Story 2:
--> Starting baseline
--> "But..."
--> "Therefore..."

4. Story 3:
--> Starting baseline
--> "But..."
--> "Therefore..."

5. Conclusion (the big, final "therefore")

You don't have to use those exact words, or even draw attention to the fact that you're using a three-point structure, but I guarantee the judges won't have any trouble following you!

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Abe bimuí bithúo dousí abe - "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free"

COG 2016 generics-only sourcebook - NCFCA/Stoa (thread)
Factsmith research software - v1.5 currently available (thread)
Loose Nukes debate blog - stuff to read with your eyes.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:44 am 
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Thank you, I'll use this framework in my speech :)
I've heard of the Heroes Journey style (?) of writing but never of applying it to BN (which make sense now that I think about it considering you documenting someone's life story which is comparable to most stories/plot lines about a character and their struggles)
Thank you!

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 3:45 am 
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InfiniteUnderscores wrote:
Settota wrote:
The second biggest tip I can give you is to find some kind of structure. Don't just ramble on in a stream of consciousness. Do the basic essay structure: intro, three points, conclusion. The contents of those points are up to you, just keep them clear.


_idontknow_ wrote:
." A BN is entirely a story - it shouldn't have "points" or an overtly organized structure.

*・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・~'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*
But who do I believe? *・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・~'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*
*・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・~'・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*


Both are true. People shouldn't ramble in a stream of consciousness - but it should have a very detailed, but subtle structure. After winning 3 opens and 2nd at nats, I can say the topic and structure give massive advantages over other opponents.

Although definitely don't do a 3 point structure. That kills the story aspect.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:44 pm 
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Quote:
Why should I care about this person's story? What can I take away? And this is more than just saying "so and so had a lot of bad things in their life that they overcame, thanks to God, and used their trials as a ministry for him. I think that is literally the point of every BN I have ever seen, and it gets boring when you have to sit through 10 of them
This. In BN and other speeches, I get extremely bored sitting through 3 hours of the same message wrapped in different packages.

As far as how structured you should make it, IMO while a good story won't seem disorganized, it shouldn't exactly seem organized either. Anybody ever read a good novel that's got 3 points? (My first point is how this ring was made. My second point is how a hobbit got it. My third point is how it ended up in a volcano. Section III subpoint F is Helm's Deep). In a good story one thing just flows into another and you get caught in it. MSD has good information on how you can organize a story, just make sure that it doesn't seem deliberate. Yes there are subtle patterns you can use to help build a story, but it should stay subtle.

The most important thing is to have a genuinely interesting topic and make sure that doesn't get lost in the formalization that goes on in a speech. Whereas if I just sat down with you and talked about the topic with you, you might be very engaging about it. Try to keep same informal enthusiasm in the speech.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:53 am 
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What made this person great?
Why should you care who this person is?

Those are always the questions I ask and answer in BN. If you do that, you'll never go wrong!

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Mac Mann - NCFCA Region 9

This year's events: LD, BN, Persuasive, Info, Extemp


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