Standing on a stage, Anne Snabes reaches into a bag filled with questions and pulls one out. She has one minute to contemplate her answer and form a coherent response. Many students would be paralyzed with fear with this exercise. But Snabes thrives on this kind of impromptu challenge.
Since 6th grade, Snabes has taken part in Forensics, an after-school public speaking enrichment program. In her first year of the Forensics program, Snabes won 1st place in her competition.
“I was nervous but it was a fun experience I had never taken part in before,” Snabes said.
After two years, when Snabes was in 8th grade, her teacher recommended that she join the school newspaper. She followed the teacher’s advice. Even though she had little formal experience with news writing and interviewing, her background as a public speaker helped her feel confident when interviewing students and teachers. One of her most memorable interviews was with the head of the Forensics program, Ms. Ebeling, for an article in the school’s paper.
“First, I didn’t know what to expect.” Snabes said. “I was nervous when I started talking to Ms. Ebeling but once I started talking to her she gave me an interesting perspective on what it’s like being a teacher in the program.”
Snabes said she considered that first interview a success: She learned more about the Forensics program and its director, and gained the confidence she needed to continue in the program.
As Snabes entered the 10th grade, she realized how confident she had become as a public speaker and interviewer. And she realized how one skill helped her with the other.
“I think the public speaking tournament I did last year helped me consolidate my thoughts like I would in an article, ” Snabes said.
Snabes said she hopes she can incorporate science, history and writing in her career. This summer, she is learning about news writing at American University’s National Student Leadership Conference and using her public speaking skills in interviewing sources for a feature story on international students making the transition into the American culture.
The main difference between public speaking exercises and her journalism assignment? She has far longer than a minute to craft her article.