For the National Forensics
League and beyond....
All speeches are judged by an audience, subconsciously,
unconsciously, usually casually, and hopefully
kindly. Competition speeches are different - the
audience includes actual judges who are consciously
grading every element of the speech and your
delivery. To make things worse, the rest of the
audience often includes the other speakers against whom
you're competing! It's a tough crowd. But if
you apply all the rules from this guide (definitely check
out the Process
section, by the way), you're on your way there. Here
are some additional pointers for competition speeches...
Attention-Getters - Though
useful in almost any speech, these are practically expected
in competition. Introductory scenarios, various
forms of dramatics, theatrics, physical schtick -
anything bold to get the audience to notice!
Bonus points (not literally, though) if the intro
wraps around elegantly to the conclusion.
Structure - Just like with
essays, the judges here are very concerned with a
cohesive, thought-out structure of your
argument. Structure it like an essay - intro,
preview, thesis, point 1, point 2, point 3, address
counterarguments, review, conclusion. Make it
easy to follow - test the structure with some friends,
and see if, after the speech, they can recall the
whole structure. If they can't make it make more
sense; make the structure visible in the
Research - Competition speeches
really can't fly alone - you need quotes, statistics,
anecdotes, or other kinds of supporting evidence to
back your points up. Look for online or printed
quote books - they're a gold mine, and usually
organized by subject and full of great stuff.
When your sources are impressive, include them in the
speech - they help your case!
PRACTICE - Once your speech is
written, this is really the most important
thing. Competitive speakers are polished to a
shine, and you should be too! Have regular
coaching sessions with public speaking teachers, and
ask for advice on not just delivery, but minor to
major rewrites of your material. A competition
speech is a living thing, always changing!
got quite a few examples of competitive speeches on this
site; all were used in Original Oratory competition in the
National Forensics League. The sample speeches are: