Competition Speeches                   

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 speech.  


  • 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!  


      I've 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:


Good luck!