Speech Team ready to talk its way to achievement

Jackie Mantey

Senior international relations major Sean Sarah is one of six members on the Kent State University Speech Team. The team placed 2nd in last year’s state competition, and Sarah won 1st place in persuasive speaking, an overall individual prize.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Palms sweating. Heart pounding. Feet stumbling.

Anxiety and public speaking go hand-in-hand for some people, but for the members of the Kent State University Speech Team, speaking in front of large groups of people is just another day.

“I don’t get nervous. I like a bigger audience because I can feed off of their reactions,” said Jen Steer, sophomore broadcast journalism major and vice president of the team.

Steer and five other members prepare for and compete in competitions at different universities all semester long.

The team’s most recent battles were Saturday. The team placed 5th at Ohio State and 4th at Otterbein.

Speech team director Jennifer Talbert said this weekend was quite an accomplishment.

“We only had half of the team there, and we beat out Eastern Michigan, a team that has 14 members. All the students work so hard and are highly talented,” she said.

Such accomplishments are a result of that talent and one-on-one coaching.

The three events are the following:

ƒ-S Oral/interpretive – Competitors memorize their own poetry or prose and recite it to the audience.

ƒ-S Public address – A prepared persuasive or informative speech is given.

ƒ-S Limited preparation – Perhaps the most feared event due to the lack of knowledge on the subject beforehand, this event includes impromptu and extemporary speech.

Steer, a limited preparation speaker, curbs this fear with stickers and a box.

“My preparation is constantly researching current events. I print them out and keep them in two boxes covered in stickers,” she laughed.

Extemporary competitive speakers are given a subject or question and 30 minutes to prepare a seven-minute speech. Steer said she finds the pressure to be a motivation.

“I think I have an incredible advantage because I think it’s the most fun. It is stressful for others, but I perform the best under pressure,” she said.

Even with the hard work, Talbert and Steer agreed the memories built from being on the team means more than the awards.

“We are like a family. Twenty years from now it will be hard to remember all the trophies, but they will always remember the relationships they form,” Talbert said.

As the semester winds to a close, the team looks forward to another semester at the podium and are getting ready for the National Forensic Association’s April nationals in Wisconsin, but the speech-making will not stop with the cold winter days.

“I’m always in what I call speech mode. It’s hard to turn off. I always give examples or quotes in political science classes,” Steer said.

“I’ll do it until I can’t do it anymore,” she said.

Contact School of Art reporter Jackie Mantey at [email protected].