When I was in the sixth grade, I joined a debate team. I was hesitant at first because debates were quite intimidating to beginners. The objective was to convince a judge, or the person facilitating the debate to vote for your side. “Your side” was either pro or con, and either agreed with a statement or disagreed with it. For instance, if the topic was “Should schools sell junk food?” The pro side would agree with this statement and the con side would disagree with the statement. A typical debate round in my division, public forum, lasted around half an hour. We would have to convince the judge through a series of speeches, summaries and “crossfires” which were basically a cross-examination of the opponent. A typical debate speech lasts four minutes and usually has three contentions, or three reasons as to why your side is right and why the team you are arguing against is wrong.
After many tournaments, I improved and improved until I was debating in the advanced division, and then until I was debating in a national tournament, taking place in Alabama.
Debate has taught me a lot of things. Not only did I learn about the many controversial topics that I had to debate for, but I also learned how to research, write and persuade a person, all while maintaining my composure and articulating well.
Give everything a chance. You never know what you are going to gain from it.