The 2016 DECA International Career Development Conference is just around the corner, and now is the time for final preparation.

Competing in DECA all four years of high school and having the honor of placing Top 10 at #DECAICDC has given me some tricks of the trade.

Now, I’d like to share my top seven strategies with you:

  1. Never underestimate. Never underestimate your competitors, and never underestimate yourself. ICDC is a collection of the best of the best emerging business leaders from around the world. You are one of these people, and you have just as much of a chance to win as each of your competitors.
  2. Utilize your resources. DECA offers a huge collection of competition material for you to take advantage of. The DECA Compete app is great at preparing academically prepared testers and helping you understand DECA’s performance indicators to strengthen your role-play skills. Plus, competitors in written events can use guides and past winners’ papers from DECA Images to gain a competitive edge. 
  3. Pick a good partner. A partner may not be for everybody, but for those of you in team events, your second half can make all the difference. Pick somebody who has the same goals as you, the same determination, and the same passion. Make sure you work well and present well together. This person doesn’t need to be your best friend; you should complement each other in order to create a stronger team.
  4. Be better than everyone else. This sounds daunting at first, but the goal is first place. Don’t settle for a second place paper or presentation. Understand that in the competitive landscape of ICDC, there is always somebody else who is trying their hardest to win. You need to constantly ask yourself, “How can I make myself better than any other competitor?” If you do this, you’ll eliminate weaknesses in your paper/presentation, and find a creative way to stand out to judges. 
  5. Find motivation. Writing a 30-page business plan or studying for your test can be tiring and challenging. When you find yourself thinking, “Placing at states was good enough,” remember why you’re working this hard! Think about that moment, surrounded by 18,000 DECA members and flashing lights, when your name gets called and you step on stage. When I needed motivation, I would think about the hard work that my partner and advisors put in; then, failing wasn’t an option.
  6. Practice. Yes, practice makes perfect, but you need to do it right. Take every opportunity to practice your presentation and get constructive criticism. In the days before ICDC, I presented in front of debate classes, English classes, history classes, teachers, friends, and organizations. With each presentation, I received criticism and got better. Testers should take practice tests and do practice role plays as often as possible.
  7. Learn. Learning is the ultimate goal of competition. Testers should go back to the questions they get wrong and review these concepts to get stronger. With every business plan you write, you should gain new knowledge and application; judges want to see that you understand the concepts, and this will help you in the future.

Each of these tips will make you a stronger competitor and business leader. Good luck in competition, and I look forward to seeing you on stage!

Follow Lauren on Twitter @DECAlauren.

Categories: Compete, Exam Prep, Home Page Compete, HS Competitive Events, Presentation Prep, Role-Play, Strategies, Written, Written Prep