How to Pitch a Program
How to advocate for a team
Speech and debate is a life-changing activity that should be available for all students, but sometimes you need help making the case. NSDA membership is school-based. Whether you’re hoping to establish a class or an after-school program, getting the support of administrators is key. This guide contains resources to help adults advocate for a new program. We encourage students to utilize this in-depth guide to starting a program.
Determine your audience
Begin by determining the target audience of your pitch. Just like in speech and debate, knowing who the judge is in the back of the room will help you tailor your performance to win the ballot. You will definitely want to involve an administrator, possibly also an activities director. If you’re pitching a class, also consider including curriculum leaders. Reach out to front office staff to collect contact info if you aren’t familiar with school leadership. They also likely can provide guidance on the process for starting a team or class at the school.
If you are pitching a school district, let us know. Getting full-district commitment to speech and debate is a huge deal and is an incredible way to anchor the activity to school culture for years to come. The NSDA partners with school districts and offers bulk membership discounts. Contact us at email@example.com for more info.
Line up your partners
Consider who from the community can help persuade decision makers. Parent and student interest drive programming. Explore involving students or parents in the pitch, be that via testimonials, surveys about their interest, or by inviting them to speak in person.
If other schools in the area have programs, inquire if their admin would be willing to advocate on your behalf, or whether their students might give a quick performance at your meeting to showcase the skills your students could learn. Not sure whether teams in your area have a program? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your school name, school district, city, and state.
If you can go into the meeting with an idea for who will coach the team, that can make a difference! If you’re not volunteering, visit our guide for tips for finding a coach.
Find your talking points
At least part of your pitch should address the impact of speech and debate on academic performance, school goals, and career-readiness. Use the following talking points to put together your pitch. For more resources, including NSDA flyers, letters, and PowerPoint templates, visit our advocacy page. Would a message from the NSDA be helpful? Reach out when you’re ready to Annie Reisener, Director of Membership at email@example.com with information about your goals and how we can help.
- Higher GPAs.
- Higher SAT Math and Evidence-based Reading and Writing exam scores.
- Increased likelihood to meet the College Board’s benchmarks for college readiness.
- Admission to top universities.
- Higher student confidence and self-esteem.
- Increased engagement in the classroom.
- Increased likelihood to graduate.
Studies and administrator testimonials also demonstrate school-wide benefits to investing in speech and debate, including:
- Increased interest in classes.
- Increased attendance rates.
- Higher graduation rates.
- Decreased negative student behavior.
- Increased school pride.
Speech and debate gives students the skills to excel in whatever profession they choose. From Supreme Court justices and politicians to doctors, lawyers, teachers, and actors, countless alums credit speech and debate as a crucial tool in their tool box.
According to a LinkedIn survey of more than 660+ million professionals, the most in-demand soft skills are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence, all of which are developed through speech and debate.
- Creativity: Speech and debate empowers students to make artistic choices about how they bring words to life.
- Persuasion: Students learn how to best convince an audience in the face of equally well-informed, persuasive competition.
- Collaboration: Students work with teammates and coaches to craft stories, create arguments, build upon feedback, and perfect their performances.
- Adaptability: Students learn to think on their feet and tailor a performance to a given audience.
- Emotional Intelligence: Students learn to see both sides of an issue and to use appropriate strategies for questioning things they do not understand.