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Original Oratory: Overview Original Oratory, or OO, is an event of the National Forensic League and National Catholic Forensic League. In OO, the speaker writes an original speech and then delivers it in competition. The speech is to be memorized, within time limits (typically ten minutes), and can quote no more than 150 words. An OO is to be factual and researched. The speaker has complete freedom on what topic of speech to choose. An OO can be a eulogy, an alert to the audience of a danger, a speech to strengthen a cause with an accepted response, or most often an OO is persuasive. Regardless of what a speaker decides to write and speak about, certain traits of a good OO are universal. A good OO is a topic of clear interest to the competitor. Passion that shows through in a performance almost always helps to separate that speech from the ordinary. OO speakers should be slightly original. How often has a judge heard a speech on whether or not abortion is good or bad? Be creative and choose a topic that is somewhat new. OO competitors need to have good speaking skills. A clear voice, intonation, gestures, and specified movements (as transitions or for emphasis) add the edge needed for a great OO. Every choice needs to be made to enhance the piece. Because this is an original speech, the work itself will also be judged. Was there a lucid flow to the piece? Was there a definite message or was it muddied? Was the speech well-supported and was it truthful? An OO of only opinion will not do well. Think of OO as delivering a well-written paper from an English class. Or you can view this like the public speaking you might see on television when an official gives a prepared speech. Either way, professionalism is of high importance, so being prepared and showing you care will take you far. Original Oratory: Structure and Rules The speaker chooses a topic of interest to them, researches it, writes a speech about it, and then delivers it in competition. An introduction is required during the performance. Speeches can be eulogies, an alert to the audience about an imposing danger, a strengthening of an accepted cause, or most often a persuasive topic. Try to be somewhat original. A judge does not want to hear three similar speeches on animal rights in one round. The rules are: --Speech is to be memorized --Eye contact is critical --An introduction is required (topic, gives any necessary information, and sets the tone) and given after a minute or so of the piece has been delivered, at a natural break-point --No notes are allowed --Time limits are to be adhered to (generally, time limits range from 7-10 minutes) --No more than 150 quoted words or 30 seconds of quoted speech --No props, diagrams, charts, etc --All gestures, movements (as transitions/emphasis), facials, intonation/vocals, etc. need to be clear and help support the piece --Must be truthful, honest, and factual --Speech must have excellent support --Speech effectiveness will be judged-did the speech clearly present an idea, motivate, etc? --Your passion on the topic will help you rank higher; be enthusiastic --Judged solely on the "effectiveness of development and presentation" according to the National Forensic League --Speaking skills (such as diction, tone, loudness, intonation, etc.) will be used as part of the ranking Excelling at Original Oratory: An Advanced Guide Declamation offers the challenging simplicity of delivering a speech in the best possible manner. The directions are straightforward and all your energies are spent on analysis and execution. Declamation is strictly public speaking. However, if you are more of an organic, multitask person then Original Oratory could be your event match. OO is essentially a carbon-copy of Dec. aside from the tiny difference that in OO you create your speech. Alright, not such a tiny difference; more of a Grand Canyon of a difference. Yet, if you prefer to say what is on your mind and be in total control over your words, OO offers that opportunity. In this tutorial, a basic procedure will be given to show you how best to excel in this event. 1. Form/Topic An OO can be a eulogy, an alert to the audience of a danger, a speech to strengthen a cause with an accepted response, or most often an OO is persuasive. Regardless of what form of OO you choose to write, the topic you decide on needs to be one you are excited about. It needs to be a topic you are passionate about because you will be spending an exuberant amount of time researching, writing, and performing it. Your topic should also be one that is underdone and fresh (or a new look at a tired subject). Writing an OO about why abortion is good/bad with the standard, repetitive support given in every research paper across the country will not score well. 2. Format When you are writing an OO treat it as you would write a school paper (a paper you actually work on and invest in!). When I was student teaching, the high school I worked at was strict about paper structure and only allowed one format. I hated that. I understand the why behind teaching a format to unpracticed writers, but as a person acquires skills, a person also learns that a paper can be written with any structure as long as it supports the idea of the paper. Keep that in mind. Choose to use a structure that works with you. Of course, the basic Introduction, Body, and Conclusion arrangement is required, but how you break down the Body is the saucy bit. Each Body Paragraph should be its own idea as a general rule. Also, the Introduction is used to hook the audience and introduce the topic. The Body develops and supports (a HUGE component of an OO) your point, and the Conclusion reiterates/summarizes the Body and leaves the audience with a thought-provoking comment/question. If you are doing a persuasive speech, it could be best to introduce the problem, list what is causing it, and offer a solution. Further, adding in information about the other side of the issue and your rebuttal is a crafty way of "proving" you are right. 3. Research/Support What you say MUST be factual and from a reliable resource. Thus, OO becomes a research paper! That said, a good OO speaker realizes this and devises a speech that offers strong, well developed support. Every Body Paragraph should have at least three bits of detail that helps sculpt that paragraph's idea of support. Expand on your reason. Make me see why it is a valid, solid point, and CONVINCE me that you are right. You are not Pharaoh, so saying something is does not make it true. 4. Quality of Writing As Natasha Bedingfield would say, "these words are my own," and so it is with YOUR OO. You might make an extraordinary point, but if your speech is as riddled with grammar mistakes as 50 Cent is bullets, the judge will not be pleased. I cannot stress how important it is to proof-read your paper. You will read and hear this speech endlessly from yourself, but you might get used to an error and not see it. Get a friend, coach, or future English major to read your paper. Have them look for grammar mistakes but also for flow, support, and those random little-somethings that always pop-up. Judging your own writing is terrible. I know. I write. When you finally get to a point you love something, it is hard to see it any other way. It's a writer's curse! But take constructive criticism and you might be surprised by the results. Finally, when you are writing and revising pay attention to detail. Avoid redundancy and work in good diction (that means make smart word selections-there is a massive variation between "gargantuan" and "big")! A dictionary and a thesaurus could be the best little helpers you ever had! 5. Eye Contact This is a memorized event. There is nothing for you to read. Nothing for you to hold on to. It is you and you alone. Something that adds the spice to your performance is the use of eye contact. Depending on how long you chose to look at someone, or to not look at anyone, tells a different story and conveys a specific emotion and attitude. Once you begin practicing your speech on your feet you will get into a rhythm of choosing when and where to look. Often it is beneficial to plan certain glances at designated times so you do not lose impact on a piece of support you wish to highlight. When you enter the round, the first thing you should do is check the spacing of people and mentally plan your eye contact attack. The most important bit of information to remember is to NEVER solely look at the judge. Tempting as it is to make them the VIP of the round, the fact is you are performing for an audience. Look at everyone; connect to all in the room. Besides, you most likely will be thought creepy if you look at only one person. People hardly ever make constant eye contact when we speak to one another, so keep that natural tendency alive when you perform. 6. Facials Watching a mannequin perform is dull. Dull and frightfully boring. Avoid this at all costs! Even though this is memorized and you have spoken these words endlessly, you need to give the impression you are still passionate about your OO. Delivering natural facials that emphasize what is being said is perfectly fine. If there is a humorous line, smile. If a fact is grotesque it is okay to show your disgust. Obviously you will not be performing your speech as an actor would perform a monologue. This is public speaking after all. But, after watching so many do OO and evaluating what I thought went best, I preferred the OOs that showed some emotion and did not look like cadavers. 7. Gestures Plan your gestures and get a repertoire of various ones to do. By doing this you avoid being repetitive and performing gestures mindlessly. Perhaps you have seen the competitor who does the exact same hand extension every fifteen seconds because they are nervous or do not know what to do? This practice is not only annoying but also decreases the importance of every gesture you make. Also, it is distracting and leaves people watching your hand instead of listening to your speech. Write notes in your marked-up copy of your speech and decide particular things to do at exact times to help keep you from looking nervous and unsure. One trick to winning is showing confidence, and by knowing what you are going to do gives an air of preparation and poise. On an end note, you might be painfully aware that by controlling your arms and hands you tend to leave your arms at your side for a longer period of time than what feels comfortable. This is natural. Do not be afraid to keep your hand at your side. Try not to look like Frankenstein's monster and forever keep them there, but just be aware that keeping your hands down is appropriate and a sign of a good OO speaker. 8. Movement Movement is the visual punctuation of your speech. If you are advancing to a new idea, then you should also be physically moving forward. Typically, for each new paragraph of your speech you should have some movement. Most often, the movement pattern starts in the center, moves left/right, then right/left, back center, and then forward slightly for the conclusion. But that is just what I have observed from watching OO. Be aware of the space you have available. It is probably a good idea to scope the room out prior to the start of the round so you are not making judgments once you begin performing. Further, in relation to movements the way you hold yourself is important. Bouncing in place or shifting your weight constantly makes you look nervous and unprepared. Take a strong stance and command the room! 9. Vocals Using your voice in a way that supports, emphasizes, and caresses your message is your best tool for success. An uninteresting delivery bores the audience and thus keeps them from paying attention. Variation is your Trojan Horse. Changes in tempo, pitch, volume, tone, silence, any dynamics you can give, are going to help you rank higher. Everything you do with your voice needs to be a deliberate choice that helps deliver your words with the greatest impact. Be conscious that OO is a speaking event and not an acting one. Going into a round pretending to be Kate Winslet or Jody Foster will leave you looking like an over-actor. Subtlety is key in any speaking event. Use your voice to your advantage, but treating a speech like a monologue misses the point. Also, planning ahead and having explicit vocal tactics in mind for certain lines will keep you from making a mistake while performing and allow for the best presentation possible. Plus, that's one less thing to worry about while you are performing. Use your voice and refrain from being a monotone bore. Original Oratory Topic Selection Original Oratory is a process. It begins with selecting a topic, then research, followed by writing a speech, then interpretation and practice, and ending with performance. Topic selection is arguably the most important step as it starts the Original Oratory chain of events. Thus, when selecting a topic you need to be mindful of a few considerations. --Choose a strong topic. Your Original Oratory topic is what your thesis statement (sentence that explains what your speech is about and your stance/opinion) is derived from. That thesis is what will motivate and influence all research done for the speech. The thesis is also what your writing will develop from. In short, a weak topic selection can lead to a weak thesis which can doom an Original Oratory into mediocrity. --Risk and originality. Sticking to a topic that has been done over and over again is grating to those who have to listen to those ideas year in and year out. That is, of course, if you are not adding a personal spin to the thesis. Original Oratory is...well...original. Making a topic personal and adding yourself can turn even the most done topic into something fresh; do not imitate another OO! New research to cite helps too! If you wish to avoid the unoriginal factor then try to think of a new, risky topic. Boundaries exist, but choosing a controversial/taboo topic to write an OO about can instantly draw in your audience. --Holds universality. Universality is just a fancy way to say that the topic can captivate the interest of a majority of the audience. You should never select a topic to humor audiences, but try to chose a subject that others can find interesting. Holding an audience captive and raising their curiosity in an issue are goals any Oratorical speaker should work towards. --Can be researched. Original Oratory is the Forensics world's version of the research paper. It is difficult to cite anything when sources are near non-existence. This can either come from the selected topic not having much resources written on the topic OR because the information is not accessible. Either way, this leaves you in a a limited position of what you can learn and cite regarding the issue. --Be concise. Select a topic that can be turned into a concise thesis. It is hard to write a paper when the thesis is so broad that it seems as if the topic changes mid-research. Be narrow. The larger a thesis/topic is, the easier it is for the paper to enter inflation as you try to touch upon every idea or tangent you can find. Find the main idea of a subject and write about that. --Love it. If you do not love your topic then that will be reflected in your Original Oratory. Your analysis will be rushed, your delivery flat, and your research thin. Love what you do. That too reflects into your performance. These are just a few of the basic queries to ponder as you decide upon an Original Oratory topic. In the end, the decision is yours. Do what feels best for you and your piece and prosperity should ensue.