I do a great deal of practicing speeches at tournaments. I used to be the find-an-empty-wall type of speaker, and while I still am, I don't always need walls anymore. Now, I just talk to myself wherever I'm standing: in the hall, waiting for postings, waiting in line at the snack table, waiting for meals... You get the idea. I'm at a competition right now, in fact, and have practiced all three of the speeches I've got here at some point today. The reactions I get both here and previously are absolutely priceless. Here's a few I've seen over the years: 1. Feeling Awkward These people kind of look at you, and kind of don't. They make eye contact long enough to realize that you're talking to no one, and then look away. You're crazy and should not be messed with. 2. Interrupting You One time, I was practicing my Persuasive for a friend of mine who doubles as my Persuasive coach and another friend randomly walked up and hugged me, not realizing what I was doing. I stopped mid-sentence to say, "Um. Hi." before someone explained what I was doing. Then he left. Also, sometimes people realize you're practicing, so they walk up cautiously and stand for a few seconds. You see them, but you're practicing, so you don't acknowledge them for a bit until things get awkward and you let them interrupt to say hi or chat about the weather and the speeches you have or whatever. Or they'll interrupt to ask if you're sane. 3. Staring I'm sorry, but if you practice speeches by talking to yourself (like I do), you're kind of a freak. Have you ever stared at someone who had weird hair, or extremely tall shoes, or who went to public school? Then you can understand why people stare at you. Or maybe it's just a good speech. 4. Trying Hard To Ignore You Within the course of today, I had the same group of kids walk by while I was practicing on three different occasions. They must certainly think I am crazy, but they tried to pretend like they didn't see me. I happen to know some of them are quite crazy themselves, so maybe they are genuinely immune to other absurdities. Regardless, they didn't act like they saw me until I awkwardly waved. 5. Laughing Because You're Weird And do you blame then? It's funny to see people talking to themselves. Especially interpers. Talk about multiple personalities. 6. Laughing Because They're Practicing Too I have developed a tendency to walk around in circles while practicing platforms. Other people do stuff like that too, practicing while walking through hallways, perhaps on their way to a room or perhaps walking just to practice. It's funny when you're doing the same thing and you make eye contact and then smile and laugh because you're both talking to yourselves together. Whether the reactions you get amused, startled, or extremely concerned, practicing speeches at tournaments is totally worth it. Not only is it very helpful, but you get to be amused by other people as well. Not just the people who are watching you, but you're encouraging others to practice too. Then you can laugh at them. Cool. You're homeschooled. Get practicing.