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Natrona County HS Legend, Zoey Pickett Talks Extemp Speaking, Women in Leadership, & Geography Club

Zoey Pickett, NC superstar alum, joins for today's episode of One Clap Speech and Debate. Zoey revealed her secret love for Geography Club, talked about why she enjoys LD debaters, discussed the importance of continuing conversations about gender bias and women in leadership in our community, examined the similarities and differences between dance and speech and debate, and dropped hot tips for extemporaneous speakers.


Transcript of Interview with Zoey Pickett

(there are some errors in the auto-transcript, & I will continue to edit as I have time):

Lyle: Welcome to the One Clap Speech and Debate podcast, Zoey Pickett. I'm here in Zoey's house in Casper, Wyoming. Thank you for welcoming me into your home. Yeah, probably a dire mistake, but I'm really glad to be here. . It was a lot of fun to set up a studio. Hey, thanks for doing the show.

Zoey: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Lyle: Absolutely. We've talked before a couple of times. , not just the tournaments, but also in a panel discussion. Yeah. Earlier this. So it's been nice to get to know you a little bit more. I know you as an amazing competitor in the state seen you on stage for years. But you know, let's start with some just real basic stuff. . So on a scale of one to 10 , it was an important question. Okay. How nerdy do you think that you would say that you are?

Lyle: Probably like an eight or a nine. Okay. I can disguise it pretty well. You know, I can be cool sometimes, but if you get me going, I will not stop especially in, okay, in middle school I did this thing called Geography Club, but I was the only member of it.

Lyle: I'm being dead serious, and I would just go to my science teacher's room at seven 15 every morning and he would ask me geography questions and I would just answer them for like 45 minutes before school. And . So ,

Lyle: You're going with did you say like an eight? Because Yeah, I'm thinking maybe we

Zoey: No.

Zoey: This up a little bit. No, but you didn't know that and so I can disguise it pretty well, you know, , talking, I get really excited when I get an Exempt question about environmental infrastructure. I specifically ask for a question about environmental infrastructure during one of my practice rounds, before nationals just because it excites me so much to give speeches on.

Zoey: So I'm pretty nerdy. I talk about my cases to people who do not do debate. So So it's, but I can be cool too. Oh

Lyle: It's not it's not cool to be nerdy. It's fine. It's totally, you can embrace it. Yeah. It's okay. I'm proud of it. But yeah, it does sound like you're fairly high on the scale there, which that's okay.

Lyle: Or nine can proud. Say that you're up there on scale. Yeah. So, so , that being said, like how did you get involved in speech and debate? It sounds like a no-brainer given some of your other interests, but Yeah. But what brought you

Zoey: into it? Honestly, I just knew going into when I was in eighth grade going into high school, like I just wanna do it.

Zoey: You know? I heard that NC had a good team and my sister had gone to NC and she said that she knew some people on the team. They were really nice. And so I just went to the first practice and I was. You know, let's just do it. Let's just try it out. And the first practice was great. I didn't really feel scared.

Zoey: I felt like even though I wasn't really talking, I fit in and everyone had the same sense of humor as me and everything. So, it was literally just like I thought that I would like it, and I really did. So, It was pretty simple story really.

Lyle: It's pretty cool. Did anyone specifically recruit you or anything, or was it just so you, you heard about it and you're like, nah, I'm

Zoey: gonna check this out.

Zoey: I just heard about it. I think I just, it said over the announcements where the meeting was. I didn't know the teacher. I, one guy in debate was in my art class. And that's like it. I didn't even know that he did debate. That's really it. I, my friend from middle school actually, I was like, I think I wanna do debate.

Zoey: He was like, oh my gosh, I think I do too. And so we would go to little meetings together and meet up and ask each other little freshman questions. And so, yeah. Not really . I didn't really know what I was getting into, but worked out well. So yeah.

Lyle: Worked out really well. You've been.

Lyle: Really important figure in our community for many years now. And yeah. What, you did several events. What are some of the events you've competed in?

Zoey: I started off the first meeting that I went to, because first we divided out into different little sections. If you wanna do policy, go here.

Zoey: If you wanna do humor, go here. So the first meeting I went to was congress. Absolutely did not do Congress ever. I did once I was sacrificial. Lamb. This district hated it, couldn't stand it. So Congress. And then I did big questions. My first tournament pf I did Duo for a hot minute.

Zoey: There did not go well either. Not a big interpreter. Exte is the only event I've been doing all four years. And then my sophomore year, that's when I did, started to do ld and then that's also when I did do a for a little bit and then I did I've done Exem debate before and then Congress that one time.

Zoey: So, yeah. So you've done a lot, but, oh, and Oratory I was gonna say. And Oratory. Yeah. Yes. I've done Oratory the past two years as one of my main events. So I dunno why I totally blanked on it. Yeah.

Lyle: You're good at Oratory. Yeah. . I was gonna point that out, but That's okay. . . So, would you say is your favorite event?

Zoey: I gotta say extent. It's the one I've, like I said, it's the one I've been doing all four years. When I first did. I was bad at it, but I really liked it. You know, the first couple tournaments you say for one and a half minutes and it's a three minute speech, but I still really liked it then.

Zoey: And so I think if you like it when you're that bad at it, it's probably gotta be one of your favorites. I, like I said, grew affection for LD this year. I always liked it, but this year especially, I felt like I was really getting into it. Really getting the hang. And it would get to the point where if someone said their value and I knew a really good attack on it, I'd be like, yes.

Zoey: And, you know, get really excited about that. And so, I gotta go with the extent but LDS up there too.

Lyle: I do wanna dig into extent with you. , but let's talk LD for a couple minutes first. . So what is it that kind of eventually seduced you about LD so much?

Lyle: Would you like it about it so much?

Zoey: I really like the fact that you can. Have an entire debate that isn't really based around the resolution and instead just based around like the idea of morality because I just really like having political conversations. My dad was a philosophy professor and so I like knew who like Nietzche was when I was like 10.

Zoey: And so just that kind of idea was really, I don't know. I really liked that and I felt like I could understand that really well and just having these. Abstract philosophical ideas and trying to apply it to real world issues, I think is really cool and there's really cool ways that you can do that.

Zoey: And so I just really the concept of it and I think that LDRs overall are very respectful. I think a lot of them like just do LD just because they think it's fun and of course everyone does their events because I think it's fun, but I think that LDRs just are honestly the coolest. So , I think that's why I got into LD this year.

Zoey: I got into the culture of it and just the idea of it. I think the reason why I did well this year in LD was just because I was like so passionate for it and I liked writing my cases and stuff. I really enjoyed that. So, ?

Lyle: Yeah. , I, you know, I think you're right. The LD community though is filled with some really great people. , like really fun folks. Yeah. Who we've been talking about gender bias issues in speech and debate, and I'm sure there's some of that in ld. what it has felt like to me in the LD community that people have been pretty respectful.

Lyle: Oh yeah. In the time that I've been in the Wyoming community in that specific event. Yeah. Generally I would agree. Obviously there's

Zoey: no problems. Yeah, there's some exceptions and there's, you know, like I said in the panel interview, it's subconscious, a lot of it, but I think LDRs really do Like a good job at going to each other and being really nice and being really respectful.

Zoey: And I'm not as eccentric as your average like interpreter. So when I see inter interp kids going up being like, oh my gosh, I love your piece so much. It's so incredible. And they're like besties and they've never even. Talked about anything other than their pieces. I'm like, whoa, that's a lot.

Zoey: But I think L Deers have a really nice way of just being like, oh, you know, like you're an incredible debater and just of complimenting each other, but you know, still being chill and low key like debaters are. So I like that. Yeah,

Lyle: for sure. What's your, do you have a favorite resolution that you've hit in the last years?

Lyle: Oh, dude. I This may be a bad question.

Zoey: No. I actually think about this all the time. So the district's questions have been incredible, right?

Zoey: So, predictive policing and then this year's if objectivity or advocacy should be prioritized in a democracy and in free press. And I loved those ones so much. I was looking at the possible resolutions before they announced which one it was gonna be. And I just prayed every single night.

Zoey: Thought it was gonna be that one cuz I wanted it so bad. And then it ended up being that one. And. It was so exciting. I loved my cases. I loved just thinking about it because honestly, another reason why I really LD is just because. There really isn't an actual answer to it. You know, like you're basically debating in a vacuum where none of the stuff that you're saying really actually applies to real life.

Zoey: And so would a democracy really need to prioritize one over the other or does it just naturally happen? You know, and that doesn't matter. , what would actually happen? And if you say that it actually matters, then it's, you know, then you're using a specific type of ld, which can, you know, be. Debated about itself, , whether if it could actually be applied should be a part of the debate or not.

Zoey: So I think that's another reason why I like ld and that really played a factor into this resolution.

Lyle: Yeah, it's like a playground where you can learn a lot about issues that are real world issues. Yeah. But the debate itself is like in. Hypothetical role

Zoey: a lot of times. Very specific conditions.

Zoey: Yes. So, yeah.

Lyle: And if you like philosophers, that's a good debate for you to live in. Cause it's a lot of fun to bring in. Yeah. All kinds of different philosophy, so, yeah. Fun. Let's talk about extemporaneous speaking a little bit too. What are some of the biggest challenges for Exem Speaker.

Zoey: I know one of my biggest roadblocks, like the beginning of my sophomore year, I had this problem where I would get to semi-finals every single time, but I never got to finals. And I think being confident is so much more important than anything you would say in your speech.

Zoey: It's if you sound like you know what you're talking about. As far as judges are concerned, you do know what you're talking about and you sound super smart. And so that's really important. Ever since I figured that out and figured out that being confident is one of the most important things, it's just skyrocketed.

Zoey: And I feel like that's really the key that a lot of people are missing. And I think a lot of Women and girls are missing that, especially, you know, it's easy to go in there and be timid, but it's really important to just break outta your shell and realize the worst that can happen is you get a seven.

Zoey: You know?

Lyle: Yeah. It's interesting that you say that's one of the biggest challenges. I think you're right. You know, in, in general, extemporaneous speaking skills are not like easy to come by , but comparatively compared to some of the other events it's a pretty straightforward skillset that you're building.

Lyle: You know, you need to figure out. How you're gonna give speeches in patterns. And like how to find, how to research something really quickly. Yeah. Or how to apply that research to your writing and all those things are a challenge. But I think you're right. To hit a baseline of a pretty good, a pretty solid extemporaneous speaker.

Lyle: It's not terribly difficult, but it's really difficult to go from extemporaneous speaker to Zoe Pickett who breaks in every single tournament. So I think you're right. Being confident too is like easy to tell people.

Zoey: Hard to do, but it's hard to do. Yeah, and I think it's just like fake it till you make it, because the rest of the skills that you get in Exem, you can practice and they just come naturally, like after a while.

Zoey: You get a question and while you're considering which question to even choose, you're already, you already have your a G D and you already have your three points just by looking at all three of the questions, giving it a glance, thinking about it for about 10 seconds. All that comes with practice.

Zoey: But confidence really isn't something that you can like practice, it's just something that you have to develop out of like nowhere. And there's really nothing else anyone can say other than just be confident that'll help you out. While other things have more tips and tricks and you can get into a little more detail, I think that's one of the, that's what makes it so hard.

Lyle: Yeah. When in our panel discussion, this did come up too, because obviously at nationals this year , there was a small discrepancy. I don't really, it's hard to even talk about this without, cuz it's like not a small discrepancy, a very large discrepancy when you look at the international and domestic contemporaneous speakers on.

Zoey: One girl in all of Extemp finals. Yeah. One girl actual

Lyle: in us. How many were there? 13 or 14? I can't remember,

Zoey: but it's there was, or was it 12? Six per six total. 12 total. So 12. But yeah. But then in semi-finals too, there was only a total of three in both events, which is like top 30 .

Lyle: So, which is crazy.

Lyle: Yeah. But it does speak to what you're talking about confidence and about voice, probably. We talked about how the folks that were on the final stage were very aggressive. Even in their extemporaneous speaking style. , we've talked about aggression and debate and stuff, but just very assertive, strong.

Lyle: Yeah. Do you think that. That females are at a disadvantage in extemporaneous speaking

Zoey: too. I think so. I think that speaking, being in the title shows implies. Obviously that your speaking and your presentation is going to be like basically the most important part. You can be totally wrong on your information as long as it's not falsified or anything.

Zoey: You know, you can just have horrible. But if you make your judge believe that if you don't use passive language, you don't say, I believe you say this is the way that it is, and you sound super confident, you're gonna do well than a round. If your information is so well analyzed and you are just, you know, so intelligent based on what you're saying, but you don't sound sure about it, you probably aren't gonna do too well on that round.

Zoey: And so I think that a lot of girls. Are so used to just in re like the real world being interrupted, you know? And so that means you use filler words, filler phrases, like I'm saying, you know, in like in right now. And so, Just the fact that we naturally speak like that. And you know, the uptalk thing, like I, I uptalk and that's a thing that women do more than men, which is not good.

Zoey: In extent, you should not use filler phrases, you should not uptalk, you should not use passive language. Not you know what I'm saying? You know, you cannot say that in stem speech, but, Girls just naturally say it more just because the way that we're brought up. And so I think not only is it harder for women to be more confident in these events, but it's also hard to untrain yourself from the things that you've naturally learned.

Zoey: And I think. I personally, like I said, I use uptalk, I use a lot of slang. I, you know, I curse a little bit, just that's just like naturally what I do and I feel like at a certain point with, you know, with practice you learn to be able to switch it on and off. It's honestly kinda like code switching in a way.

Zoey: And I think that's harder for women than it is for men.

Lyle: Yeah, we are not even really touching on judge bias, which if women did come into the round and spoke the way that we're talking about to be success, Could immediately be a turnoff Yeah. For some judges because

Zoey: of cultural bias. Yeah.

Zoey: And it's viewed as unprofessional. And I'm not saying that it is professional, but it's just the way that we talk more.

Lyle: Yeah. For sure. Yeah, no, this is like difficult stuff to talk about. Don't want to just complain. Definitely not what we're doing, but I think people need to know and we need to talk about these things so that folks are aware of their implicit bias.

Lyle: Yeah. And understand how much more difficult it is for ladies to do these events. , because they have so many more things to. Taken into account when they get in front of a judge in these kinds of situations. Yeah. And clearly we have an issue when an N S D, you know, 95% of the folks on stage are male.

Lyle: Yeah. A problem. Yeah. But let's go back to skill-based stuff. . Yeah. So you, besides being confident, which I mean is important and we could maybe even think about some ways to try to help people be more confident. , what are like your key pieces of advice to exem speakers or STEM speakers? Perform at their

Zoey: very best?

Zoey: . I think a lot of people think that Exem is one of the hardest events because they think, oh, you just write a complete new speech from scratch every single time and you have to memorize it. That's in, that's impossible. But honestly, it's really not that way. It's, I think, honestly, it's as scripted as a lot of other events.

Zoey: And people just don't realize it. People don't realize that there's a format. If you watch people that do consistently well in Exem, you are going to see the exact same thing over and over again. And that's just a g d background to the issue, scope of the issue, which I think is really important.

Zoey: Not a lot of people have. Why should your judge care about this? I think that's really important. You can't just be like, oh yeah, we're talking about like the war in Ukraine. No. Why is it important that we talk about the war in Ukraine? Why is it important that we ask this question? And they're saying, so OB begs the question, giving your question because of these three points.

Zoey: Right? And then in your points, you have specific. Things outlined that are a little more personalized to each speech. And then at the very end, you wrap it up, you give the scope again, you go back to your A G D, like it is. It is very formatted. And I think not a lot of people realize that not a lot of people who have done a ton of research into Exte realize that it is a specific format.

Zoey: And so honestly, that makes it not that hard to memorize if it's just like a formula and you're just plugging in different context every time in. Topics. And I think that's one thing that once you figure that out, it just becomes so much easier

Lyle: for the uninitiated , what's a

Zoey: g d stand for?

Zoey: It's attention grabbing device. And so it's the thing that you'll give the beginning of your speech that is the zinger. It doesn't go right into it, but. You know, you don't just, if you are giving a speech on the war in Ukraine, you don't just start talking about it. You have something that's relatable or a joke.

Zoey: Depending on how serious the issue is, you know, sometimes you really shouldn't be giving a joke cuz you're a g d. Sometimes it is warranted. That's how you grab your judge's attention and, okay. Honestly, I have a bun to pick with ad's. So I noticed at , the national stage that. Pretty much everyone on there was using a canned intro, which they were good canned intros.

Zoey: Don't get me wrong, they were using canned jokes. That's totally fine. Personally, I think it shows a lot more skill if you can come up with a new one every time, and that shows that you are more comfortable with it, right? You didn't need to. Google a funny joke, you know, before the rounds started and then you get your question.

Zoey: Oh, awesome. I can just use that joke. You know, I think that using a personalized a g D every time is really good. And your judges appreciate it. Yes.

Lyle: So as a competitor in rounds, I'm sure you I've seen the same people use the same canned. In extent you don't always see the same people competing, right?

Lyle: Cuz you're not in the ground. But if you were, yeah, , I'm sure you'd see, I know people that use the same introduction, right? Not every speech, but 80% of their speeches.

Zoey: Yeah. And the thing is, at Nationals finals, it was a canned joke. It wasn't a canned A G D, but two different people used jokes about how Leonardo DiCaprio is a climate activist.

Zoey: And that's really funny because his career started with an ice. Two different people used that same joke and I was like, Hey, I know that was on Google. You know? And so it's just, using a canned A G D I think sometimes can be warranted and you're like, oh, this works super well. But it gets dangerous because if it's too not personalized to your speech, then stuff like that can happen and your judge can be and it would suck to be the second person to make that joke, you know? True.

Lyle: And, you know, at a stage like that every little tiny advantage you can

Zoey: get is a big advantage. Really important. And honestly, absolutely. I think the Wyoming circuit is competitive enough that you get to a finals round at a bigger tournament.

Zoey: It's nitpicky stuff like that ends up deciding anyways.

Lyle: Absolutely. Is there anything else that, any other key pieces of advice you have for STEM speakers?

Zoey: Let me think. I think, like I said, just be confident. Follow the format for. And on our team, whenever I'm teaching people to do exte, I teach them with the high standards that I was taught by Lauren.

Zoey: Of course, Lauren at high standards, I have high standards too. Do not ever use a note card ever. Honestly, I don't care if you're novice. Don't use a note card. I didn't use a note card when I was a novice. I think it gets you used to it a lot better. And if you have to look at a notebook and then all of a sudden you don't have that notebook anymore, You're, you know, that's, you have to, all of a sudden basically the event totally changes.

Zoey: That, and also I think using the more evidence, the better. Not so much that it's just evidence after evidence but, you know, I think three per point is nice. I didn't even know that wasn't the norm until, Other people do it. And I'm like, huh, why are they only using two?

Zoey: That's weird. And then I asked Kelly and she was like, oh no, that is the norm. You just used three because Lauren taught you, you used three. And I think that's best. I think honestly, if you make some mistakes that can cover 'em up because it's oh she said I'm a couple times, but she also used nine pieces of evidence that's, you know, she knows what she's talking about.

Zoey: And also doing research. Of the event, but not only just looking at the news, looking at little articles, but understanding why something happens. So for example, when I was preparing for nationals, I wouldn't just look up, you know, how bad is inflation right now, but why is inflation bad right now? You know, why is the supply chain issues happening?

Zoey: Why did we get ourselves into a pandemic? Why did Joe Biden win the election? Like all this stuff of why can be really important in your. I think don't be afraid to use the stuff that you learn in school. I took a Casper college class this year called Issues in Foreign Relations, and those that class made my speeches like, Nine minutes if my judge wouldn't have stopped me , because of just how much background information I had.

Zoey: So, I think understanding why things happen, understanding historical context as well as using evidence to just, you know, give little statistics, like I think inflation's at nine, 9.1% right now. So just stuff like that, just knowing off the top of your head I think is really helpful because then in your event, You in your like actual prep time.

Zoey: You don't have to be looking up what is inflation right now. You can just look up, like you already know the number of your head. You just need a source to decide it, and that makes it a lot faster. So also 15 minutes research, 15 minutes practicing your speech. I think it, you know, you can have a couple minutes different, but I think like once you get to 13, if you have, if you can't find another piece of evidence, just don't even keep looking.

Zoey: You probably won't be able to find it. That is time that you need to practice your speech. I think when you go into your round, you should have been able to give your speech at least one time, maybe a couple times before you actually give it in front of your judge. I think that's really important because I see myself in my practice time just blanking.

Zoey: Or being like, oh my God, that doesn't make any sense. And then just restarting that, sta that same sentence over and over again into light, the way that it sounds. And then I just go in there and I do it and I already know that it's gonna work out smoothly because I've practiced it. And so making sure that you have time before you actually go into your round to practice your speech, I think is really important.

Zoey: That was of a lot, but. That's, I think, the main

Lyle: things. That's some good stuff. Yeah. We, maybe we should talk a little bit more about preparation too. . But before we go there I like Lauren's rule of threes. Yeah. I, I don't I like to teach extent all in threes. And try to encourage everyone to have, you know, three main points or three different parts of the speech that they're gonna tackle.

Lyle: And then, you know, in their introduction, making sure that they say those three things and then their inclusion, that they restate 'em in a different way. Yeah. But then just saying three pieces of evidence per. Is a lot. You're right. But I do think it can cover up Yeah. For some other issues in your speech.

Lyle: Yeah. If you do have that much evidence also. Plus if you're prepared, yeah. It's not as hard

Zoey: to get. All right. It's not as hard to get those pieces of evidence. And it means that if you are at 13 minutes, you don't have a third. Piece of evidence for your final point. That's okay. Choose the norm anyways, right?

Zoey: You're still ahead of the game. And so I think that really helps. Another thing that really bothers me, I just remembered this. I think that this is for more, your judge probably won't pick this up unless they've done exte themselves or they're a coaching extent, but actually answering the question is something I feel like Exte do not do.

Zoey: I think. If you get a question and you say, so first, let's look at the background of this question. Then let's look at the different factors that go into it. And then finally, and then your final point is actually answering the question. No, you should have answered all of that in your first two points.

Zoey: You should have summed up in your background, in your introduction. And then this is my answer, and these are the three components that go into why I answered it this way. I think the giving a. Like, for example, if you were to get a question about like why Joe Biden won the election giving, okay, let's look at his past.

Zoey: Let's look at his present and now let's look at the future. That's not answering the question. The question was why did he win the election? Here are three reasons why he won the election. You know, I think that's a really good way to get ahead and a lot of people don't really think about that, but I've gotten that quite a few times on my ballots.

Zoey: Yeah, like you had great analysis, but I didn't really get a direct answer to the question. And that's something that I see in Exem all the time that have the format down. They seem really confident. It's like your next step is that you have to be sure that you answer the question and that'll come with practice too.

Lyle: It's so weird that you say that cause it seems so obvious, but I see it a lot. . And I think part of the reason why though, too, is a lack of preparation. And sometimes that's an easier route, right? Because it can be difficult to make a decision about how to answer the question. . And so maybe you don't have enough information about that, then they'll fall back on.

Lyle: I can get background information. Yeah. Yeah. Give more, you know, color to this question and then I can answer with something. But I think a judge picks up on that pretty quickly, especially if they see someone else in the round who answers the question.

Zoey: So, yeah. And it can be really hard to shorten your intros because like I said, background is really, I. And it's really hard to fit everything in the intro, including the background, especially if there's a lot of background to it into that time that you should be allotting to the intro. But it's really important that you just answer the question and you spend the three points that you have just answering the question, because odds are, it's a really nuanced question with a lot of possible answers to it, and you should be using those three points.

Zoey: You know, extend on that nuance and be sure that you're giving that really good analysis.

Lyle: For sure. What are some other things you do to prepare or a good exte or should do to prepare? Watch the news. Do you have any like preferences for that sort of

Zoey: thing? Yeah, you should definitely be watching the news, be keeping up on everything.

Zoey: And like I said, you should also be asking yourself why things happen, be investigating into that. There's these 15 minute NPR podcast that just go into detail, just enough detail of why things are happening. I listen to. All the time, whenever new episodes come out. And not only that, but NPRs a great source.

Zoey: BBC has podcasts and so just going into different perspectives on issues as well. So not only consuming cnn, also consuming Fox and, you know, guardian b bbc NPR on the same issue can give you a lot of different contexts cuz a lot of them just pick and choose what they want. Not that it's, you know, like fake or false, but just that you.

Zoey: You can really only extend on so much. And so that gives you a really good scope. And then also if you are doing exte, it's easy to throw away your practice time, but you gotta be given practice speeches, you know, you gotta, and. May not sound fun. I don't really like giving practice speeches, but you have to.

Zoey: It's the only way. And even if you don't have a tournament for two weeks, right? You have a two week break, you should be giving a speech at least a couple times during that time because your first speech, that tournament where you've had a two week break is gonna be rough. It's gonna be bad. You don't realize how easy it is to get out of the swing of things until you've done that.

Zoey: Me, if you asked me to gimme an extension, try now. It would be so. It would be terrible cause I haven't given one in like over a month.

Lyle: That's gonna be interesting cause the next thing on my list here is I have a question for you, . Okay. I was like, oh my gosh, . No. No. You're super right and even the most talented.

Lyle: Extemporaneous speakers, they carry those skills forward into their life. That's one of the reasons why I love the event. I think it Oh yeah. Provides super real world Oh yeah. Skills that are very

Zoey: helpful, but writing essays, Ooh. So

Lyle: interest, but actually doing like a 30 minute prep, giving a dynamite seven minute speech.

Lyle: You, you just have, it's like sports or whatever dancing, you need to be in practice.

Zoey: You have to, you gotta say Be tight. Yeah.

Lyle: Absolutely. I, there's also this thing called the half hour, Oh yeah. Which there's at least one episode where there's this one person on there that just really kills it.

Zoey: So two, actually

Lyle: I was gonna say I think maybe two. Yeah. No. So, and I think that's been pretty helpful. I think they have 36 episodes and then five episodes where they just talk. Different approaches for Yeah. Separating and speaking, it could be pretty

Zoey: helpful as well. Yeah. And I know that they talk a lot about, on their podcast about the importance of answering the question and how to do that a little bit in more detail with some examples.

Zoey: So that's a really good source because, you know, they're both great speakers and then they all, they've also been judging now too, and so they've seen it from different perspectives and so it's a really. Source. Don't be watching it during your prep time though. Watch it before . Yeah.

Lyle: No the whole premise of trying to use that to prepare for speech was insane.

Lyle: Yeah. . Yeah. But yeah, I think anything that you can find, you want to get better. The more knowledge that you have about what's happening in the world. Better. Yeah. Is there anything else we could talk about with stem?

Zoey: Sometimes it can be a little challenging. A little intimidating just to be in there with just your judge cuz it's like really the only event where you're only in there with just your judge. But I really think that you can take advantage of that and, you know, you can make it really personal and make it really personable.

Zoey: Because I think another reason why people don't, are afraid of exem or intimidated by Exem, they never wanna try it even though they're great speakers is because. You know, like I said before, they're, they just think it's a new speech every time. Little do they know, you know, there's a very strict format that you should be following.

Zoey: I also think it's the only event or one of the only events that you can use your own voice in. And cuz interp events, it's a script, right? You're debate events. You have to be very professional. You're arguing a certain thing, do you honestly probably don't even believe, right? And so ex. You not only get to use your own opinion in it and your own researched perspective, but you also get to make jokes that you would actually make in person.

Zoey: You know, as long as they're like appropriate, you get to use your own voice. And I think a lot of times you can get out of a round, like I can get out of an LD round and I'm so like heated and I'm so mad, and then I can just go to an exem speech and instead of being super stressed out, I just use that as my time to relax and just.

Zoey: You know, like just talk with someone about a topic that is interesting that I happen to pull as a question. So, I think just understanding that honestly, the more chill you are, the better. You still need to be confident. You still need to be like, Hey, this is what's going on. This is what the answer to this question is, right?

Zoey: But you can use your own voice, and I don't think that you should be afraid of that because judges can tell when you are. Uptight and too, like afraid and too rigid. So just being calm also goes into the confidence thing too. You know, using your own voice, you're most confident using your own voice because that's what you do every day.

Lyle: So one of the reasons why I love the event so much , because you get someone who's very winsome and comfortable in their own skin and you know, lets their personality come out in their speaking. A lot of times those people do really well, but then the ceiling's kind of low until. Get the other stuff down.

Lyle: Evidence and figuring out how to integrate it into their speech. The structures down and then they can go over that. But then the other folks that are sprung on pulling evidence, writing speeches and maybe a little rigid, sometimes they get over that hum. And they end up integrating their personalities.

Lyle: Oh yeah. And they find ways to do that. So I've had experience both ways with students. And I. Love to see how it helps people grow.

Zoey: Yeah. And I remember my sophomore year when I was that was Lauren's senior year, you know, she was an incredible speaker and she had everything down pat she was incredible. Like everyone will be like, oh, so you did so well in finals, but you know, you know, who's gonna win? I was like, oh yeah don't even . But there was a couple times like, I don't know, two or three times where I like was placed higher than Lauren. And I don't think that ever should have happened, but I think honestly, the reason why it did happen was because I was, my personality is just a little bit more lighthearted, a little bit funnier, and I let that shine through.

Zoey: And I think in like at like nationals, her. Way of speaking probably did better. But I think if you're just gonna stay in the Wyoming circuit, you're just competing at a regular tournament, I think that you can have a lot of fun with it. You can be casual about it in a way. And that'll help you out.

Zoey: Cause clearly help me out more than it should have. . So, ,

Lyle: So, so funny. You should bring up Lauren. Lauren was a leader on your team.

Lyle: And a woman. And I wanna talk about women in leadership . And I know you've been uniquely in a position that you've been a leader on your team for a couple of years now. Do you wanna tell me about your experience as a woman in a leadership position on your speech and debate? Yeah,

Zoey: I think that my team was great and they never did anything that, you know, compromised my authority.

Zoey: I'm kidding. ,

Zoey: no, but I think that being a good like captain, being a good leader just really goes down to what you have to offer for. And just your job is to be a teacher and to teach them about not only the events and the complexities of the events, but also just about other things like I taught them what Hope stood for.

Zoey: They didn't know that was an acronym. How like scores work for breaks, stuff like that. I explained that I'm in the beginning of the year and so there's just so much stuff to debate that I. It's the leadership's job to explain all that stuff because Emma and I were talking about this at nationals, the hotel room one day, that there's so much like lingo in everything that when you first go into it, you're like, literally what?

Zoey: Like they sound like they're speaking a different language. And so just explaining all that stuff, I think is really important and really sets a good foundation for people on your team, not only for new people, but also just other people you know. You never know what you. No. And so it's really important to learn that stuff and pass on information.

Zoey: And to be really supportive too, I think is important. But I think the position that I was in with, you know, being on a team that has a lot of female leadership, honestly not much male leadership is really, was really good and really important for helping.

Lyle: Yes. You also have female leadership at the coaching positions too, on your team?

Lyle: Yeah. I've

Zoey: never had a male coach. I had Miss Horde as my head coach my freshman year, and then Kelly as my assistant coach. And then Beagles is my other assistant coach. And then Talia as the main captain. Talia Bloom. My freshman year. And then my sophomore year I moved. Ms. Gray as the head coach and then Kek again as the assistant coach.

Zoey: And that was the same for who was the captain? My, was it Emma? My sophomore year, it was Lauren. Oh yes, it was Lauren . It was Lauren. It was Lauren, yeah, Lauren was the coach my sophomore year. And then junior year again, it was Ms. Gray, Kelly Gaz, the assistant coach. And then Ian was the captain. Which, you know, he's a man, but he's feminine, so kidding.

Zoey: And then this year Keck as the head coach and then Beagles as the assistant coach with me as the debate captain. Then Tyler is. I e captains, so a lot of female leadership. So I think that's really great to be in a, on a team that's just happened naturally, you know? For sure.

Lyle: So we, and we've been having discussions about equality and speech and debate and gender bias and stuff, so we should talk about this a little bit, but why do you think it's important for teams to make sure that women are included in leadership?

Lyle: Because, you know, the situation you're in is often reversed. Yeah. Especially outside of Wyoming I know there are plenty of places, especially places that only do debate.

Lyle: Yeah. That is flipped to an exaggerated extent. Oh yeah. Probably at the college

Zoey: level as well. Yeah, probably. Yeah, it's, I think it's really important just because I think honestly in a lot of ways everyone can learn from women. But women, not everyone can learn from men in some sense, because I talked about on the panel discussion, it's important to have a girl on the team who explains to you, you know that there is gender bias and debate.

Zoey: You should be wearing certain things that there's more expected of you. And having a male coach, male assistant coach, male captain, there isn't someone in the position to tell you that stuff, and I think that's really important. I think that seeing women in leadership positions can be better just for the school and be better for recruitment.

Zoey: I think if people know oh my, you know, female English teachers, the coach and my female friend is the captain. Then that kind of makes it a more like welcoming place for women, just knowing oh yeah, women can do it, they can do well in it. I think is really important for recruitment. Just when you know that it's just like a men's thing that's not very welcoming to everyone.

Zoey: And so I think that having women in positions of leadership really helps that helps that out.

Lyle: While you were talking I was just thinking about recruiting. We had talked about recruiting. . And I do think that if you want to be inclusive, and I'll try to get as many different kinds of people as possible, then you need representative leadership.

Lyle: And that's that's sometimes tricky. , depending on the demographic that your school or whatever. But we know that there are situations where those decisions are being made, not because of those tricky situations , but cause of gender bias. So thank you very much for being a part of that panel discussion.

Lyle: That we had earlier. I think that was pretty productive. Yeah. It ended up being like two hours long. It was a really cool panel. It was good for me to just sit and listen. But what were some of your big takeaways from that discussion with those other four amazing

Zoey: ladies?

Zoey: I thought it was really interesting how, like none of us had talked about it before, but we all had a lot of the same experiences. There was three people that said that, oh yeah, I noticed that wearing glasses made me do better, so I just started wearing my glasses to tournaments. And so yeah, just stuff like that.

Zoey: You know, they hadn't talked about it before, but it's like the same experience, and I think that's a reason why it's really important to be open about that and to have discussions about that because it's important to know that you're not alone in your experiences. So that was honestly one of my main takeaways.

Zoey: I think it's really important that we talk about, there's also gender bias in inter interp events as well as debate events. Most people just talk about debates. I think that's where it's the most obvious. And you know, I just do platform events and debates. And so that's really all I've experienced it in.

Zoey: But I know for a fact that it happens in interpret after seeing, hearing about the experiences that Carly and Danny had, you know, it does happen. And that was, I think, another big takeaway. It was a really good discussion. I think for

Lyle: sure. It is scary to me that these kinds of discussions aren't happening.

Lyle: They're happening probably on teams. They're happening among people on teams and in some communities. But yeah, it's definitely, we need to have more conversations like this. Yeah. Building community like that can help people. Yeah. I think, you know, yeah. Deal with some of those issues. Because you know, it's probably naive to think that they're all gonna go away, just cuz we're pointing out. It's been happening for a long time. But yeah, thanks again for being a part of the panel. Yeah. We have a couple more coming up, so it'll be interesting to see how they added the discussion.

Lyle: , but Zoe Pickett, what's next for you? After being a dominant speech and debate for us for so many years. , where, what are you

Zoey: doing now?

Zoey: So I am going to college in Massachusetts, in western Massachusetts. I'm going to Mount Holyoke College. It's historically women's college. It's really cool. And I am thinking about majoring. You go in undeclared, so I haven't declared anything yet, but I'm thinking about double majoring in international relations and environmental science.

Zoey: To go into environmental policy or environmental advocacy because through debate I've really learned that I'm a good public speaker and I'm good at persuading people and I should be doing that as a career, probably , because you know, that's where my talents are. That's what I like doing. And so I think going into advocacy

Zoey: would be really useful for my talent. So, and my oratory this year was about environmental advocacy and climate doom and how it's important that, you know, we keep advocating for it. So that's what I'm thinking about doing. Are

Lyle: you going to pursue any speech and debate there at all, or dance?

Zoey: I'm not gonna dance.

Zoey: , I don't think, but I might do a debate. I don't know. I was thinking about not doing it. But then after Nationals, when we were on the plane, I was like, oh no. I was like, now that it's over, I cannot, I don't know what I'm gonna do without it. I was just going through my Instagram the other day and going through my Twitter and I was like, oh my gosh.

Zoey: I talked so much about debate. It's actually embarrassing. And so I don't know if it can just like not be a part of my life anymore. I, would they have this thing called the Five College Consortium which is, so my school itself is really small liberal arts college, but they, it shares you can basically take classes and do extracurriculars at any of the other five schools.

Zoey: Which includes Amherst College, which is really great school Smith College and then the University of Massachusetts am in am. And then also Hampshire College. And a lot of those have debate programs. And so it's honestly pretty cool. I can kinda pick and choose which one I would wanna do.

Zoey: , yeah, see what events they have, see what their team is like, and then just choose. So I think the first semester I'm not gonna do anything, just chill. Go into it, ease into it, and then maybe do it, see if I can live without it or not. . I

Lyle: understand we didn't get to talk about dance.

Lyle: I, I wanted to, I just know you've been involved in it for a really long time and I was just curious how that plays into your life and similarities and differences you saw in dance and speech and debate. Community and,

Zoey: yeah. I do a lot of performing art stuff. I do dance and then I also do theater and stuff.

Zoey: And there's a lot of crossover between theater and debate. A lot of my friends who do theater also do debate. So there was a bit of butting heads just in a lot of busyness when it was the musical and like districts and states like, Ooh, okay . That's of hard to navigate, but it happens. But I think.

Zoey: Dance does a really good job at teaching you discipline. And that's really useful for debate. I think one thing that we talked about a lot on our team this year was how. Etiquette had gone down ever since we went online for debate. People weren't wearing the things that they normally do.

Zoey: People weren't acting in rounds the nor the way that they normally do. And I think that, you know, Jan dance just teaches you it's one way and it's the right way and there's really no other way to do it, you know? And I think that just using that in debate of you're. Gonna be dressing professionally, you're gonna be acting professionally, outside arounds.

Zoey: You're gonna be saying only positive things cuz you never know who your next judged is gonna be. You never know who your next competitor's gonna be. You better be speaking nicely about everyone at tournaments. I think that really goes into it too. Also, honestly, physical endurance too, like tournaments can be a lot more physically strenuous than you would expect being on a.

Zoey: For four hours and then competing for eight, and then leaving the school when it's 10:00 PM getting four hours of sleep, waking up the next day and then having another 16 hour day just to only get home at 2:00 AM is hard. Especially when you realized, oh my gosh, I am 15 minutes late to my round.

Zoey: You have to start sprinting in heel. It's important to know how to dance in character shoes, how to dance in heels when you gotta be running it. I'm like that. So , that's another underrated thing about debate too. Honestly. It's pretty physically hard. as well as mentally hard, so

Lyle: especially like state and districts.

Lyle: Oh yeah, they're like base nationals of course, but yeah, they're basically endurance competitions. Yeah.

Zoey: Yeah. Yeah. Can you stay mentally sane for it's your sixth speech of the day? Can you still give a sane speech? You.

Lyle: Absolutely. Yeah. It's this is a sidebar, but the gal that directed girl Talk lucia Small. I interviewed her and it took eight years to make the film. Oh my gosh. A really long film to make. Yeah. But she was just like, Meeting. She followed these four girls, or five girls through their high school experience in fate.

Lyle: . Which is pretty cool. Yeah. But but she, when she heard about what a tournament was like, she was like, oh yeah, this is great. Cuz the kids are all excited about it. But yeah, get up super early in the morning. Go back the night of, go back up the next morning and she's two 16 hour days.

Lyle: Like it's crazy. Yeah. Especially when you just, we just don't think about it. We just do it. We've

Zoey: doing it for a long time. It's

Lyle: just, yeah. It's not a question, but I remember when I first started coaching, I was like, this is insane. Like this, there's gotta be a way to do this that doesn't destroy every part of myself.

Lyle: Yeah. But that is also

Zoey: great. It's fun. It's the fun of it too. Yeah. Complicated. Especially when you are doing three events, you know? Like I did three events, but you know, so many people do more like interpreters. On average. You're like six events. It's insane. And so when you get to finals and it's that Saturday and you've done two prelims and then quarterfinals for your debate, semi-finals and then finals of all of your events, you are so worn out and so tired.

Zoey: And it's a lot. But like I said, when I didn't do LD for like that one tournament, I couldn't stand it. I could not stand just sitting there because running around everywhere and feeling like you're going crazy, giving, can't even remember what your speech that you gave, you know, the last round was.

Zoey: But you know, it's just the thrill of the game. And the other option is just sitting there for two hours and doing nothing, which I think is a lot.

Lyle: I think we're getting to the place where we can start winding down a little bit. But what would you say is the very best part about speech and debate for you?

Lyle: What's been the best part?

Zoey: Honestly, maybe a little cheesy, but like my team, you know, getting to know my team. I think that debate, like I said, that first meeting that I went to, I realized the debate is like the place for. My kind of people, you know, people that you can make jokes about Boris Johnson and they'll understand what you're talking about.

Zoey: You know, stuff like that. And just having the same sense of humor and they're all, you know, my friends and like actually my friends there is, it's not just like a team. I like spending entire weekends with them, especially when it gets to that February march where it's every single weekend you see 'em after school, I'm out of classes with them.

Zoey: And then you spend every single weekend with. It's like he tired of him, but you know, it's still your team and he still loved them. And even just people that aren't on your team, but people in the district. I've met really good friends. Josie and Cafa actually drove from Lander to Casper to watch Tyler and I, Tyler, Cass, Alexis and I in Chicago, the musical.

Zoey: And so it's just stuff like that. They're really good friends that I think, I'm so excited to keep tabs on them. I know they're all gonna do such great things. And then also just people you've never met before and just, you know, bonding over something. When I was watching the PF finals, it was me and Alexis and Camilla all sitting together and we were like, oh shoot, we forgot flow paper random.

Zoey: Turns, she's sitting right in front goes, oh, I have extra. Do you guys want some? And then just when you're watching the crazy CX in PF and LD Finals, and you hear the entire audience go, oh, when she made the joke about Mitch McConnell being our politicians, right? It's that's only debate kids that would do that.

Zoey: You know? And so it's just so like awesome being in an environment where you know that you're all the same. And I think that's comforting and but also scary cause you know, that we're like the future leaders of the world and it's Ooh, .

Lyle: A lot of maturing is gonna happen.

Lyle: Don't worry. Oh yeah, . I hope so. Me too. I always like to give people a chance to just add anything about your experience with the speech and debate community that you'd like to add

Zoey: no, like I said, I think it's gonna be really fun watching everyone grow into who they're gonna become and see how they use debate in their lives.

Zoey: I know I've already used it and I know I'm gonna use it a lot more. So, I'm just excited to see that. Excited to see everyone that I've made friends with, grow into the people that they're gonna become. Cause I think they're all pretty cool. .

Lyle: That's pretty lovely. I do have one more question and that's very important.

Lyle: . Trying to figure out what the best each and debate. But for you? At a tournament, you're on the go. You don't have a lot of extra time, like what's your go-to? Or maybe it could be preparation, maybe while you're preparing, what's your go-to speech and debate stack

Zoey: being on the Medtronic County High School speech and debate team?

Zoey: There is a correct answer to this. And I can't explain why, but it's gummy bears . If you're on the team, if you've been on the team for the past couple years, you know exactly what I'm talking about. But I'm not gonna say it on the podcast.

Lyle: I love gummy bears, so it makes sense to me.

Lyle: But I'm guessing there's more to the story.

Zoey: There is a story. I'll tell you when we're done.

Lyle: Thank you so much Zoe, for sitting down and doing an interview with me. It was super fun.

Lyle: Yeah. I learned a lot.


Many thanks to Zoey for agreeing to do an interview with One Clap and sharing her story, her experiences, and her ideas with us. Be on the lookout for two more panel discussions with women in the Speech and Debate community! Included in these discussions are the following panelists: Kinlee Whitney, Carly Jo Huff, Pétra Van Court, Morgan Russell, Breeze Petty, Lauren Blackwelder, and Sarah Baynard.

This year, maybe consider supporting One Clap Speech and Debate by checking out our patreon page (linked below). You can partner with me on this journey for as little as 1 dollar a month and stop patronage at any time! Special thanks to our patrons: Terry, Tina, Brenda, Aaron T., Melissa, Marcus, Laura, Londe, Ashley S, Joel, Matt, Allen, Ashley M., Aaron L., Izzy, and Rick.

Your voice matters! Happy Holidays from One Clap!


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