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Helpful Hints for Online Tournaments

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

Some secrets for online speech-and-debate competitions.

Online tournaments have vastly increased since the pandemic. In some ways, they are a marvelous development. Online competitions are much more accessible, tend to be cheaper, and allow you to compete against people around the nation!


However, they pose their own unique challenges, from zoom fatigue to bandwidth problems. Here are some helpful hints for your next online competition!


Tip #1 - Kick everyone else out


There's little worse than making an excellent point...and have your little sibling interrupt it by hollering loudly into the microphone. The absolute number-one way to ensure an interruption-free day is to shoo everyone out. Additionally, your bandwidth won't be taxed by the more aggressive streamers around.


Note that this only applies if you are calling in from your home rather than a school or other location.


Some suggestions for activities that other household members can do when you're in competition include:

  • Visiting a local park / community center

  • Taking a walk (a long, long walk)

  • Spending time at a friend's place

If it's impossible to get rid of the people around you, make sure they're well-stocked with quiet activities. Some good ideas are:

  • Reading

  • Drawing

  • Listening to music/watching a movie with earbuds/headphones!


Tip #2 - Take breaks in between rounds


This one can be easy to forget, but it's absolutely essential to maintaining stamina throughout the competition. Speech and debate are nerve-wracking activities that require extensive brain energy, so give your mind a rest to ensure it's fully charged.


It also helps your body to recover from those long hours of sitting and staring at a screen.

Speech and debate are nerve-wracking activities that require extensive brain energy, so give your mind a rest to ensure it's fully charged.

Here are some great ideas for taking a little brain-break.

  • Run a couple laps around the room

  • Do a really quick workout

  • Take a walk around the neighborhood, if possible

  • Doodle or do something creative

  • Eat a healthy snack

Something you don't want to do is keep staring at a screen, like scrolling on TikTok during breaks. Give your eyes a break from all that blue light!


Tip #3 - Keep in contact with a friend


Admittedly, a little more screen time can be a great reset when you've got another person on the line in between rounds. You can rant to them about how it went went or have them distract you from your nerves.


This is also great if you've successfully completed #1 and are feeling a little lonely all by your lonesome.


Tip #4 - Test audio and video beforehand


Technology issues about in online tournaments and can even lead to delays. Some common problems include being too quiet, glitchy, or the dreaded Robot-Voice Syndrome.


A lot of calling apps have features to check you audio, video, and connection quality. Make use of these features to make your rounds smooth sailing.


Wear comfy bottoms!


As many of us have learned via Zoom school, what they don't know, can't hurt them. So stick on that blazer and the pajama pants bottoms to your heart's content!


The soft material can help remove some stress from the competition and is far comfier than the average formal garb. This can be a great reminder not to take yourself too seriously; you do speech and debate because it's fun!


If you do stand up during your performances, do wear formal bottoms, since they will be visible on camera.


Remember, this is far from against the norm. I've heard of a tournament with a pajama bottom contest!


Last Words


Online tournaments can be fatiguing. These tips can help make them go a little smoother!

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