This April, at the University of Nebraska, Eastern Michigan University’s Forensics team won the National Championship for impromptu speaking.
Senior Tylor Orme, 22, won the impromptu speaking portion of the national competition — a feat no EMU student had previously accomplished in the 40 years of the Forensics Program. By doing so, he also brought EMU its first American Forensics Association National Championship since 2007.
The American Forensics Association was created in December of 1949 after the Association of Director of Speech Activities, a group of instructors attending
the annual meeting of the Speech Association of America, met in Chicago.
Those individuals became the founders of the AFA.
AFA is a professional organization dedicated to training American students in the skills of public speaking.
According to their website, the group also focuses on the study of the use of reasoned discourse in public life.
Impromptu competition, the victory that has been out of reach for EMU’s team until recently, focuses on single topics, quotes or phrases for discussion.
It is one of many facets of forensics competition, others including poetry, persuasion and after-dinner speaking.
“Impromptu has always been my favorite category and it’s the one I worked the hardest at,” Orme said about his victory this year. “Because of that, winning in impromptu was a fantastic feeling.”
There were over 600 competitors at the tournament itself, 200 of which joined the impromptu category. Orme’s final speech was to examine and respond to the quote by Donald McGannon: “Leadership is action, not position.”
“I chose to disagree by arguing that positions of command are important to finding people who will listen to your leadership,” Orme said.
When reflecting on leadership, Orme insisted it was necessary to point the success of teamwork rather than individual success and said, “We don’t designate any leadership positions on the team. We tend to believe that the team works at its best when everyone is coaching together.”
While the category of impromptu speaking had been out of reach, EMU’s Forensics team had other successes, placing in the top 10 among the nation for the past 40 years.
EMU’s team is recognized as one of the most successful groups in the nation, as it has always placed in the top ten at the National Tournament. In addition to this, Eastern has won 30 Michigan State Championships.
“No other team can say that or even comes close to that,” said Director of Forensics Raymond Quiel.
EMU’s forensics team seeks truth through communication and performance, according to their website. But Orme also believes in the power of teamwork, and made sure to mention that the Forensics’ coach is the backbone of the team.
“Ray Quiel, our director, is without a doubt the emotional center of this team.”
Orme also remarked on the familial quality of the team.
“We really are a family and spend an enormous amount of time together coaching and just being friends,” he said. “Because of this, I compete, not just to help them succeed, but also because a mutual sense of competition developed where friendly competition encourages everyone to do better.”
“I’m proud that we’re winning something,” said sophomore Aliah Bates. “I just wish they’d broadcast their events for more to see.”
Fellow sophomore Nina Marshall agreed. “I’m glad we’re winning across the country; I just hope the rest of our programs on campus take note and follow suit.”
When asked if he had any words for anyone interested in joining the Forensics team, Orme was encouraging.
“This is a family that’s extremely welcoming. Between our coaches and other competitors we can turn anyone into a fantastic speaker regardless of your ability when you start