Speakers Forum is an event that takes place within the sophomore class at KO where every student must prepare a short story (or part of a book) and perform it. When I saw Speakers’ Forum for the first time my freshman year, I was shocked. The students were allowed to pick any piece they wanted and simply speak it, like a monologue without an essay or project or book to read. It was a unique English assignment that looked like a lot of fun.
When this year rolled around, I was excited but nervous at the same time. I wanted to find an interesting yet simple piece that would keep the audience captivated, but something that wasn’t too confusing to follow. In all honesty, finding a story was hard.
I searched through books in class, including ones I had never read, and skimmed the backs looking for something that would pique my interest. Nothing. I went home and looked on my shelves some more; it couldn’t be too childish, but at the same time, not too mature. It needed to be comfortable, but not easy.
I decided to go with a piece from a book I read in third grade called “Out of my Mind.” It is a book about a little girl who has cerebral palsy and can only communicate to the reader through her thoughts.
I think the key for me was picking the juiciest, most in-depth part of the book that would leave an audience member hanging on the edge of their seat. This way I could add beats, dramatic flair and try to make the first person narrator as relatable as possible.
The class reading was the most fun part of the event by far. I got to listen to everyone in my class perform different chapters from books I had never read, and it was really cool to see people break out of their shells and do something so far out of their comfort zone. Going from the classroom to semifinals was the worst part.
I knew the stakes were super low, and I had already done well in class, but semifinals seemed like such a big deal. There were teachers judging us, food and snacks set up like we would be there for HOURS, and Mr. Monroe holding time signal posters which made me even more nervous.
After the semifinals came the finals in front of the whole school. This round didn’t feel as personal, so the nerves settled a bit for me, but not much. I could feel myself literally shaking when I stood up to the mic, but I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and prayed my story wouldn’t go over six minutes and thirty seconds.
Overall Speakers’ forum was such a fun and unique experience and I couldn’t be happier that it is a part of the sophomore curriculum. Not only is it out of the box compared to normal readings and essays, but it also gives people the chance to learn about public speaking which is beneficial to our futures in the “real world.”
If I could give one critique to Speakers’ Forum it would be to have the students vote in the finals because I think it would keep them more interested and make it a more competitive and inclusive event.