Why Your DECA Association Needs to Hold a Competition Training

Shritha Mandava | Oakton DECA

With going back to school comes homework, projects and tests, but also a fresh start for DECA competitors.

After nearly a six-month break, we’re finally beginning to get back into competition preparation. In Northern Virginia, many of our District Leadership Conference are held in early November, which means we have to start preparing right when we get back to school.

This year, Virginia DECA decided to offer their members the unique experience to attend a Fall Competition Training. The event was held over the course of three days – each in a different location, giving people all across the state access to attend.

The conference wasn’t like other DECA conferences, and instead gave attendees the opportunity to train for competition and learn from people with experience. Each day was broken down into four, 50-minute sessions with a lunch break in between. As an attendee, we got to select a new session each block, depending on what our competitive event and experience level is. For example, I attended the Advanced Role-Play Competitor Sessions, which covered topics such as the Four I’s of Role-Plays and Creating Creativity. The individualized nature of the sessions allowed competitors of all event types to learn information that was relevant to them.

Each session varied by topic and activity. While I’d love to recap each one, it’d be more efficient to look at key takeaways. The presenter I listened to for the majority of my time was Curtis Haley, a previous DECA competitor who has done countless trainings, making him quite the expert.

I was expecting to get information I had already received from my teachers and observed that many of the attendees were in the same boat. In my particular room, we all had prior experience and spent the past couple years preparing as best as we could. We walked in thinking we knew how a DECA competition role-play worked. To our credit we did, but because of the Fall Leadership Conference, we left with the revelation that competing is about more than knowing what to do; it’s about how you do it.

From the first couple minutes of the presentation, my fellow attendees and I understood the value in Curtis Haley’s presentation. Presenters like him brought insight to us that no one else had been able to offer. His excellent presentation skills, unique never-before-heard tips, and slightly awkward use of humor kept us engaged and responsive.

If I could pick three things to summarize what I learned from the sessions, they’d be to:

  1. Make yourself memorable.
  2. Think outside of the box.
  3. Put yourself in the judge’s shoes.

On top of of competition tips, we walked away with understanding of how perspective plays a role in how we prepare. Our peers and teachers can only help us to a certain extent, and those who often sit on the opposite side of us during competition have the best advice. For that reason, I encourage all association DECA teams to organize a competition training and conference like Virginia DECA did. Trust me, your members will thank you for it!

This article was written by Oakton DECA Vice President of Hospitality, Shritha Mandava. You can follow Shritha on Twitter @shritha_m, and Oakton DECA on Twitter and Instagram @OaktonDECA.

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