Team Tips: How to Be Unique & Stand Out

By: Zahra Fatehi, DI Alumna

How do you be unique? You may be thinking, “That’s an absurd question. Everyone is unique! We all think differently, act differently, have different mannerisms and look different.” The problem is that it’s a bit more complicated than that; it’s more than just being unique. YOU know you’re different than everyone else. YOU know that you have something to give the world that no one else can offer. But how do you do use your distinctive qualities to give back to the world and come up with some exceptional things?

  1.  Brainstorm (Lists, lists, lists!)

I cannot stress this enough. The scenario: You read your Challenge for the first time, and you process the information. An idea pops into your mind, and you’re elated! You are ready to tell your teammates… but hold on a second. Are you sure this is the best thing you can think of? If it’s the first thing you thought of, within minutes of reading the Challenge, many other teams all across the globe will have come up with something very similar. Think of it as if you were writing an essay; your first instinct is to describe something as “fun.” It’s a lackluster word, but as you pore over it, you come up with “entertaining,” “amusing” or “diverting,” all of which would make your essay a better read. Now let us go back to the Challenge. You have a story idea—build on it! Think of more ideas. Now combine them. The limit is your imagination, and the possibilities are endless. Don’t settle for your first idea.

  1.  Go Big or Go Home

If you want to really make an impression, be bold. So you have a limited budget. That doesn’t mean you can’t do something spectacular. I’ve seen some pretty interesting mechanical structures created almost entirely from recyclable materials—a transforming tree, a large ship, you name it. If it’s central to your plot, go all out. Add bold colors and design elements to make it stand out. If you cannot make it so that you can transport it easily, build it in parts. Being bold doesn’t just apply to the physical aesthetics. You need to be LOUD and OVER-EXAGGERATE YOUR ACTING. This may be really difficult, especially if you’re new and aren’t used to acting, so practice! Many teams have lost many points on a fantastic script and fail to make an impression on the Appraisers because they lack the volume they need, especially in a gym or other open setting.

  1.  Practice Instant Challenge

A lot of people don’t realize just how important the Instant Challenge is. It’s an incredible way to put yourself out there and really show the Appraisers what you can do in a short amount of time. It can make or break whether you make it to states or not, so you need to practice a lot during the season. Make sure you have a strategy for both Task-Based and Performance-Based Instant Challenges and that you know how to work efficiently as a team. Assume that there will be curveballs and know how to take them in stride. (Remember, the Appraisers are watching your every move.) Most importantly, come in with passion, enthusiasm and confidence, and remember that even if you don’t make it far, you’ve gained some valuable skills!

About the Author: Zahra Fatehi is a junior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She participated as a Destination Imagination team member for 10 years and now volunteers as a DI Appraiser.