Nicole Yang Portrait

Judging Debate from the Speech Perspective

Guest post by Nicole Yang

The Speech Experience

I am an alumni of the University of Minnesota. I now help to coach their speech team! I first got involved in speech when I was in high school, and then decided to continue when I heard that the UofM had a team as well. I loved being able to research my own topics, speak my truths, and make great friends in the community.

I’ve taken a lot of really wonderful things from speech. It helped me to think critically about social justice and things that are happening in our nation and around the world. It gave me really great research skills, and the ability to write a persuasive or informative speech in a short amount of time. Speech also helped me to build my confidence with public speaking, and gave me some amazing friends!

Judging Urban Debate

I started volunteering with the MNUDL last year during their debate season. I helped to judge the Spanish Debate League.

It was really interesting to see a different side of forensics. I was so used to a lot of the speech aspects, where we focus on delivery and performance a lot more than debate does. The whole format was really interesting, and the way that the students were interacting with one another was awesome. You don’t get a lot of conversation in speech, and I really liked the way that debate had the students really engage with one another’s arguments, and think about how to respond.

The Spanish Debate and East African Debate allows students with similar background or interests get involved in an activity that can carry them through for the next 8-10 years! It was so amazing to hear students in middle school using near fluent Spanish to debate on an important subject! Besides the utility of debate itself, it makes the students engage with what is happening in the world, and think critically about their roles in it.

I had one debate where the students were talking about police brutality and social justice. It was a heavy subject, but the students were so energetic and passionate about it! They had an excellent dialogue going during their debate, and they all had a lot to give to this ongoing conversation.

Advice to Other Speech Alumni

I was nervous that I wouldn’t be qualified enough to judge a debate, but once I got started I felt more comfortable, and really enjoyed it! If you’re not sure that you should, then take the leap and do it! Seeing upcoming forensics students is 100% worth it.

We need debate judges all year round! If you’re interested in hearing about volunteer opportunities, please fill out this form: