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  • Taylor Gilliam

The POI-fect Program

If Speech and Debate has taught me anything it's that you can never please everyone. I mean think about it. If you go back to look at the scores in the final round at Nationals, the champion is likely to have fives and sixes just like any other competitor. No matter what event you’re in it’s true that not everyone who watches you will love what you’re doing as much as you do. I like keeping it real, and knowing this fact allowed me to craft my performances in a way that appealed to multiple types of judges and audiences. We can’t always get perfect ballots, but we can make sure to use diverse literature that checks off all boxes so that we can create a program that is perfect to us! To do this, I created my own recipe for the 5 things I always included in my own “perfect” program: the narrative, humor, poetry, backbone, and the through line. The literature in each program I've constructed serves a specific purpose, and I want to break down how to use this recipe to begin creating your perfect program.

First: the narrative. Once you have solidified your argument the narrative is a first person account that tells how your issue affects the everyday person. This, for me, typically comes from a memoir or novel, and can even come from an article which tells the account from the victims perspective. The narrative should tell a story with its own arc within your program, and serves to create a character your audience can identify with and connect to.

Next is your humorous piece. The best programs have a balance in literature, and in POI specifically, performers often make the mistake of having only dramatic pieces of literature in their program. Having high quality humor will not only set you apart from others in a round, but display your acting range and make you stand out in your judge’s minds.

Poetry. The type of literature that can make or break your program. I personally love poetry because it truly shows what this activity is about: interpretation. The opportunity for amazing tech and blocking as well as a unique portrayal of your argument through poetry offers for beauty in your program that can rival any of your competitors.

The backbone is arguably the most important component in a program. For me, this typically came in the form of an article that specifically addressed my argument. Tell me the facts. Get angry. Show me why I should be passionate about this issue, how it’s affecting others, and why I should get up and take this information with me to further my awareness. Once you show how bad the issue is, show me some solutions. Whether it’s acknowledgement, changing a problematic behavior, or working to spread awareness, this piece should tell us why we’re here and why this problem demands our attention.

The last is a through line. A through line offers a stylistic way to transition through pieces and can offer the finishing touches to a piece. It can be a phrase that is repeated that comes back to have a relevant meaning to your piece or another poem that you can use rhythmically in your piece. This can become the most memorable part of your program and be how people identify that piece as yours. It can be as intricate as you want it to be!

Now, no program is truly perfect, but these tips can help you create one that is perfect for you.There are a million different ways to construct an amazing POI so I’m not saying that this recipe is the end all be all. I am saying that this will offer an amazing foundation for not only the beginning of a BOMB program, but for the beginning of an extremely successful season of competing as well!

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