Spencer Harris won the national forensics championship
1. How do you prepare physically and psychologically for a debate?
There is a lot of research that goes into each and every debate. As such, I read frequently and mentally process a number of arguments. Also, debate files can be heavy! So, when I’m not researching, you’ll find me at the gym, 25 hours a day, 9 days a week;) Actually, I don’t get enough physical exercise, and now that I am ending my debate career and graduating college, I hope to get more physical preparation in the future.
2 Would you say you’ve ever lost an argument? If not, what’s the closest you’ve come to losing?
ABSOLUTELY! I think that I have learned the most from the losses. They force you to rethink your strategies, your preparation, and your skill level. To get better you have fix you weaknesses, and often, you don’t know what those are until someone exploits them for you.
3 Is there any kind of debater you fear more than others?
I try not to “fear” any type of debater. That being said, a vampire or werewolf debater, in any combination with a flesh-eating zombie debater would certainly cause me some problems. But, I had a real bad habit for a large portion of my career of psyching myself out because of “who” I was debating. So, one of the things I worked on the most in the last year was trying to move past “fearing” some debaters and work towards bettering myself.
4 What are some tips you can pass along to those initiating their debate careers?
There will always be the most true argument, and you may find yourself on the wrong side of that occasionally. However, often times, the best debater is not the debater with the most true argument, but the most persuasive argument. And, you’re only as right as your audience perceives you to be...focus on your communication skills and supplement your performance with research and practice.
5 What is your secret to winning so many debates?
Fear, I frequently threaten the well-being of my opponents;) And applesauce, I throw a lot of applesauce when I’m losing a round – judges love that! Actually, I don’t know if there’s a secret. Practice and preparation, coupled with a drive to win and respect for your competitors and the larger community will help any debater.