The Art of Cramming
Stuti Shah and Melissa Patrocinio
It’s three days before the competition, and suddenly you realize that between that math midterm, your part-time job, and soccer practice, somehow you forgot to prepare for your roleplay! Before you go fully into panic mode, don’t worry! With these 5 tips for cramming, you’ll be sure to rock out your roleplay or written event presentation.
1. Know what you’re working with…
Play up your strengths and try to minimize your weaknesses. Regardless of your level of competition experience, you know what you’re good at: you might have a really strong vocabulary, compelling tone, or are a relatable conversationalist. With this knowledge, you can shift your focus to something you may need to improve on. For example, under stress, I become flustered and nervous, which causes me to stumble over my words, so I always practice speaking clearly with tongue twisters and prepare my opening and closing lines the night before. That way, once at the competition, I can easily find my flow during a roleplay and show off my expertise. Similarly, if you struggle to remember key vocab words during roleplay, review Quizlets and performance indicators the night before. Success is only possible through improvement!
2. Make sure your group members are on the same page.
If you’re doing a team event roleplay or a written event in a group, ensure that everyone knows their part. Nothing is more unprofessional than several presenters speaking over each other or having awkward pauses. Non-verbal communication counts! Facetime or meet with your group members before the event and make sure that you are all prepared.
3. Ask for help.
Maybe it’s your roommate or a friend you see in the convention center, ask them to hear you practice. A second opinion is always helpful, and other competitors can give you helpful tips for improvement. If nothing else, it’s a chance to become more familiar with your presentation style and strategy.
4. Be confident.
Remember, roleplays are conversations and written event presentations are reports. Don’t be scared of your judge, just be yourself and try your best to maintain a relaxed energy. If you act like you know what you’re talking about, the judge will think you do too!
5. Don’t give up!
Even if you don’t feel 100% ready to go or you feel like quitting at the last minute, don’t forget what competitions are all about: the experience. In reality, it’s not about the trophies or medals, but rather, competition is about personal growth. All DECA members are on a journey to become more professionally ready individuals, and everyone is still learning (there are probably many other members in the same boat as you). Go out there and give it your best shot, because you only ever regret the shots you don’t take.
These tips are important to keep in mind when there are just a few days left before the competition. Nevertheless, we don’t recommend you cram all the information the night before! Attending prep sessions, learning performance indicators, and practicing in advance are all also essential to your success. With preparation and confidence, you will be ready to succeed.