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Overcoming Public Speaking FearsFinal KAIAC Forensics Tournament of 2017/18
Written by Jin Hee Kwon | Published. 2018.04.25 18:33 | Count : 394
The final forensics tournament of 2017/18 took place on March 16th and 17th. Hosted at Korea International School (KIS), students from Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference (KAIAC) schools such as Asia Pacific International School (APIS), Chadwick International (CI), Seoul International School (SIS), International Christian School (ICS) and other international schools participated in the tournament.
This year, I joined the debate team as a freshman with a simple goal in mind— to improve my public speaking skills. As an introvert and a relatively shy person, speaking in front of others has always been one of my greatest fears and weaknesses. As I moved up to high school, I began to acknowledge that public speaking is an essential skill in order to be a successful leader at school and in the future. This made me realize that it was necessary for me to overcome my fear of public speaking, which was why I decided to join the debate team.
Starting from early in the morning, students debated in 4 rounds each. As this was my second tournament, I was not as nervous as I was at my first, but I still couldn’t help feeling a sense of uneasiness. After my first tournament, I realized that confidence was essential to making strong arguments, so I attempted to sound passionate about my speeches but not too emotional.
My first round began at about 9:30 and my opponents were juniors I had met at my first tournament. Being familiar with their styles really helped me because I already knew some of their strengths and weaknesses. Although I left the first round feeling confident in my win, my last three rounds were much more difficult than my first.
[KAIAC Parliamentary Finals, Picture by Jin Hee Kwon]
After lunch, semifinals and finals took place, and those rounds were open to anyone who wanted to watch. I was glad to take the opportunity to support debate team members who made it to the finals. 

After the tournament, I was able to interview fellow debate team members about their motivations and what they hoped to accomplish by joining the debate team. Many students said that joining the forensics team has given them the opportunity to practice and learn certain essential skills. Such as argumentation, critical thinking, public speaking, and more. “I chose to join debate because I love argumentation and persuading others, and I wanted to cultivate those skills. Not only that, I wanted to strengthen my speaking skills and find more confidence in public speaking. One thing I realized I cherish about debate is that I can learn about topics I may never learn about in my lifetime,” Jina Kwon, a junior in my debate team said. 

“Debate helped me improve my essay writing because you have to organize points, think of ways to make your claims more persuasive and possible refutations for points that the opposition might make,” Henry Kim, a junior and the debate captain for this tournament said. He also said that he likes debate because “it gives me a chance to prove myself and justify why I’m right while considering other perspectives. In addition to the ‘art of argumentation,’ I found myself particularly attached to parliamentary debate (Parliamentary (Parli) Debate: A category of formal impromptu partner debate) because we get to synthesize knowledge. I found excitement when I was able to draw evidence and arguments from my own knowledge.” 

When asked about the benefits of debate, Ms. McRoberts, the APIS forensics debate coach said, “Overall, there are certain skills used in debate such as public speaking, confidence, being able to be quick on your feet, critical thinking, organization and analysis. ”

There are also certain skills unique to speeches that are essential for giving a successful performance. Mr. Sgrignoli, APIS forensics speech coach, said, “You can learn certain skills such as communication skills, confidence, self-assuredness among other things, as well as listening skills, reading and enunciation. In speech, being able to read something, interpret it in a unique fashion and then present it confidently and assuredly is really important. Communication never goes out of style because this is a skill that is a prerequisite for almost any facet of life.”

Participating in the championships tournament was exciting yet challenging at times, especially since I was new to debate this year. At the beginning of the year, I had joined the debate team with a fear of public speaking and with the belief that my public speaking abilities wouldn’t improve. After competing in the two final forensics tournaments, I could see that debating had an effect on my speaking skills. Debate allowed me to be well-rounded and able to learn and talk about a variety of current events, history and politics, analyze and organize evidence, and more. Not only was I able to find confidence in my speaking, I learned how to write stronger arguments and counterarguments, analyze evidence, and look at issues and topics through multiple perspectives. Debate was challenging at times, but in the end, my goal was achieved, which made it worth facing my fears. 

For more information and details on KAIAC forensics, visit the site:

Jin Hee Kwon 
Grade 9 
Asia Pacific International School

Jin Hee Kwon  student_reporter@dherald.com

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