Role-Play Competition Tips You Probably Haven’t Heard Before

Mar 15, 2018

Contributed by Mack Bucki, Airport DECA

I recently finished my freshman season in DECA, ending as an association finalist in Retail Merchandising event, and would love to share some tips and tricks I learned along the way.

1. Use Paper PowerPoints

Want to add a kick to your next role-play? Use the Paper PowerPoint method!

A Paper PowerPoint is just what it sounds like – a written slideshow presentation. Reading off notes can sometimes be boring for a judge to listen to. So, ‘spice it up’ with plenty of visuals and creative ideas!


  1. Stack three pieces of paper and fold them hamburger style.
  2. Write each of the five performance indicators on the sides.
  3. In the 6th blank, you can draw a SWOT analysis or visual.
  4. Add in notes and any other valuable information by the PI’s they correspond to.
  5. When time is up, place your slides in numerical order.

2. Psych-Out Your Competition

DECA’s just like any sport – if you look confident, you can make your opponents nervous. So, instead of standing there like a nervous wreck, calm down and relax. Straighten your posture, stand still, avoid wringing your hands and put on a nice, big smile!

3. Quote It

For my first-role play that earned me a spot as a Michigan DECA finalist, I used a quote – but not just any quote! It was from Michigan’s very own Henry Ford.

After inventing the Model-T, America’s first commercial automobile, Ford said, “If I had asked people what they would have wanted, they would have said faster horses.” I had memorized a few other quotes prior to the conference, but Ford’s had a special place in mind. I was going to a conference in Motor City, after all!

Knowing that it could apply to my role-play, I practiced introducing the quote and closing it about an hour before my event. Guess what? Ford’s quote was perfect for my role-play (which was about introducing backpacks into a store during Back-to-School season). I explained that Ford’s quote explained risk and illustrated the idea that companies were the ones that had to make the overall decision for themselves, even though its success would be uncertain.

All in all, I highly suggest using a quote in your role-play event. Not only will it make yours creative and memorable, but it can also help in making a statement for your fictitious company.

4. Look the Part

Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to your physical appearance during any DECA competition:

  • Be professional, not provocative. I have seen many examples of short skirts, excessive make-up, and overly high heels. Keep it simple. Trust me, tweaking your wardrobe can make a big difference at your next DECA event.
  • Please refrain from eating before your event while wearing your DECA outfit. You may spill liquid or leave crumbs on your dress clothes, which may cost you some valuable points.
  • Couldn’t resist eating that garlic bread? No fear! I suggest carrying Listerine Breath Strips ($4 for 3 packs at Walmart) and Listerine Breath Spray ($3 at Walmart) just in case of an emergency.
  • Be sure to unbutton or unhook your blazer before sitting down. Leaving its sides attached WILL bunch your jacket up and leave you looking unprofessional.
  • Most importantly: remember to smile! Advisors, judges, staff, your teammates, and pretty much everyone else at the conference will love to see that you are excited to be at DECA.

5. Think Outside The Box

Judges aren’t just looking for solutions in your role-play. They are looking for CREATIVE solutions! Be sure that the execution of your role-play answers the prompt, while also adding innovative ideas to the mix. Inform the judge about the situation at hand, entertain them with an original meeting format, and, finally, persuade them to use your proposal.

For example, if your role-play is about managing a hat store, you can make a quick origami hat to use as a prop!

I hope these tips help you at your next DECA competition.


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