Developing public communication skills: Speech and debate team

We speak with Denver English teacher and speech/debate coach Anna Steed about the benefits of speech and debate competition. Students acquire critical communication skills and self-confidence; students of color and low-income students can become more comfortable in majority-white, middle-class environments similar to those they may encounter in college. For many students who have challenging home lives, speech and debate opens up worlds of possibility.


00:00-00:14 Intros

00:14-01:08 Why the speech and debate program started at Anna Steed’s school

01:08-02:17 How Anna Steed became involved

02:17-03:08 How the speech and debate program developed into a team

03:08-04:13 What speech and debate is

04:13-05:06 How students became involved

05:06-14:04 Program Oral Interpretation

14:04-15:20 Impact on measured academic performance

15:20-17:42 Equity; students’ comfort level around more privileged students

17:42-21:40 Speech and debate during the pandemic

21:40-21:53 Impact on students’ ambitions

21:53-26:08 First steps to start a speech and debate program

26:08-28:10 Need for judges

28:10-29:36 Need to give English credit for speech and debate

29:36-30:15 Training for judges

30:15- Outro


Click here to see the full transcription. 

Soundtrack by Poddington Bear

Photo by Hart Van Denburg/Colorado Public Radio