The Art and Science of Original Oratory
By Ashley Mack
An abstractive summary by August Frederico
Communication is fundamental aspect of human nature. In this day and age, it holds the power to transform and idea into a reality. Original oratory offers a chance to exercise that power in a way that truly allows one to connect with an audience in order to open their minds to change.
While specific rules for this category of debate are variable according to state and district, an original oratory is always a speech that addresses a social problem, is written and memorized by the performer, is no more than ten minutes length, and no more than 150 words are quoted from outside sources. An oratory should strive to show maturity, intelligence, wit, and in order to best communicate an idea. By forcing competitors to write, memorize, and perform their speech, the participants find that oratory is best approached as both an art and a science. A good contestant knows to use creativity, passion, and vulnerability, while simultaneously requiring confidence, calculation, and logical reasoning.
Throughout this text, we will learn the roots of persuasive theory, explore how to select a topic, outline and write a speech, discover how to use humor effectively, and find out how to perform a speech so that it reflects you.
Persuading an audience of anything is one of the most difficult tasks in oratory, but can still be possible if an idea is presented in the right way. In order to effectively persuade an audience, the speaker must be able to listen to, analyze, and adapt to his audience, which in turn enables him to respond in a way that best connects with them.
The most common and effective method of doing so is by using three rhetorical proofs: Egos (appeal to ethics/credibility), Logos (appeal to logic), and Pathos (appeal to emotion), developed by the great Greek philosopher/orator Aristotle. He argued that true persuasion could be achieved by using any of the three proofs correctly at the right time.
Before all else, a speaker must establish Egos. This includes establishing the morality of the speaker and his qualifications regarding the topic in a way that allows the audience to accept his ideas. This can be communicated at any point in the oratory competition, even through the speaker’s attire and body language in between rounds.
Logos is essential to any argument, whether it be in the form of statistics, scientific data, or clear cause-effect relationships. It both gives the audience undeniable factual evidence that supports the speech, as well as subtly increasing the speakers ethos.
Both ethos and logos are powerful, but must be supported by pathos. By using stories or powerful anecdotes, a speaker can truly connect with his audience while again increasing his ethos.
To be a successful orator, you must be able to use an even balance of egos, logos, and pathos in order for your speech to be credible, logical, and emotionally touching.
Aristotle is also known for understanding the complexity of an individual, and the importance of using that knowledge when speaking to a group. In order to best connect with your audience or judge, you need to be able to analyze and adjust your speech to their individual reactions. While you are able to land should look at audience demographics, judge’s history, and the general environment of the competition beforehand, often it is the ability to react to your audience on the fly that makes a difference.
Audience adaption is an ongoing process that constantly builds and changes based on your analysis of the audience, both during an individual competition and an entire season, you must always gage and adapt to your audience.
The heart of any good speech is a great topic, so choosing one can be intimidating. You can write WHATEVER YOU WANT, as long as you care about it and feel you can do something with it. When brainstorming, you can search headlines, magazines, or even TV shows until you find something that connects with you emotionally. The more the topic means to you, the more you’re going to want to help make a difference, and the more likely the speech is to be amazing.
Once you have a number of ideas, try talking them out with someone close to you. By thinking through them out loud you might find more to the topic then you expected. As you work through these topics, try to take specific issues to a broad societal standpoint in order to best find an oratory topic.
Unfortunately, no topic is truly original, but they can be spun in a way that makes them seem new. This can be done a number ways, whether taking a cliché topic and arguing the other side, taking an age-old topic and addressing it from a different angle, or reassessing an outdated topic using current information.
At this point, you should have narrowed down your search to one topic that you can begin to develop your on argument. Look at the topics validity, relevance, depth and digestibility in order to transform it from an idea into a purpose statement and thesis, which can be used as a guide for the rest of the speech.
With an intriguing topic and a thesis to follow, the next step is to begin your research. By using a variety of information from a range of sources, you can build a diverse field of data to base your speech on. Whether it be statistics, examples, or facts, make sure all your evidence is Relevant, Recent, Reliable, and Re-usable (the four R’s) in order to insure it’s usefulness. You can and should get evidence from an assortment of sources including online databases, Google, the library, or newspapers.
Even after you finish your speech, continue to search for new information about your topic and adjust accordingly.
With information and a plan, you must begin your actual argument. To most important part of any argument is the warrant, which is used to shape the relationship between your claim and the grounds. There are a number of logical fallacies that you should avoid when constructing your warrant, and by constantly being aware of them you may be able to avoid them and compose a stronger overall argument.
Phycology has proven for decades that the human mind craves order, so by organizing your speech, your audience may better follow your argument and reasoning.
The introduction should draw your audience in, reveal to them your topic, and lay a roadmap for the rest of your speech. You can do all this by opening with a story, an example of a situation, a rhetorical question, or even an indirect anecdote you can revisit later. The introduction should open the topic, while the conclusion should take the same story, question, or anecdote and conclude it. The conclusion is best ended on an inspiring note, so be creative and leave the audience with something to remember.
The body of an oratory speech is accepted in three organizational structures: Problem/Cause/Solution; Cause/Effect/Solution; and Two Prong. While they all require an introduction and conclusion, the body of each structure is organized different and you should chose one that fits your topic.
The Problem/Cause/Solution (PCS) structure is the most popular due to its simplicity. You first assess the problem further, then identify the cause and reason for this problem, then present a logical solution.
The Cause/Effect/Solution (CES) structure is also fairly straightforward. You first identify the cause of a problem discussed in the introduction, then analyze the effect the problem has, and then offer a solution.
The Two Prong structure easily illustrates two causes of the problem. It is as such: introduce cause one, introduce cause two, analyze the implication of both prongs, and finally present a solution for the overall problem.
Each structure is dependent on internal organization. A PCS or CES structure requires each paragraph to have a transition, preview, two sub-points, and an impact statement. Each sub-point should be named, explained, proven, and related to the rest of the speech.
A paragraph in the Two Prong structure should include a transition, a statement, an explanation, proof, a tangible impact, and a clear connection to the central argument.
You should always outline your speech before writing it. Use your purpose statement and thesis to guide the overall idea, but be sure to identify the causes, effects, and solutions you’re going to write about.
When you start writing, always be simple and clear, use inviting rather than attacking language, avoid absolutes, and be sure that 70% be your thoughts while 30% be information. It also helps to use powerful and appropriate words as well as general language strategies (rule of three, alliteration, assonance, etc.) to best deliver your speech.
Make use of connectives, catch phrases, extended metaphors, and vehicles in order to further your overall argument.
Humor is effective above all else. Using different types of humor (self-deprecating, allusions, puns, etc.) at the right time can transform your speech while both disarming and re-engaging your audience.
The content of your speech is only as good as the delivery. Even more so than the speech, the audience is listening to find out about you — something that is found in your methos (your tone). You must shape your methos in order to appeal to the listener as in a way that engages them and makes them feel confortable. To create the best methos you can, you must improve your verbal and nonverbal delivery.
Verbal delivery includes your pitch and tone, your pacing and pausing, your volume and breathing, and your articulation. Similarly, nonverbal deliver includes facial expressions, eye contact, hand gestures, attire, stance, and movement. By improving every aspect of the two, your methos is greatly improved.
When preparing to deliver your speech, you must control your psychological and emotional responses. While everyone is different, most people either feel overconfident or terrified. This natural, but both can inhibit your performance if you don’t get them under control. By practicing managing either reaction with meditation, you can keep them from getting in the way.
This should be one of the things you practice in the time leading up to your speech. You can practice on video, with a friend, or even out in public to calm your nerves and learn to speak under pressure.
Then, finally, you can give your speech knowing you did all you could to prepare. Go in calm, and remember what you’ve been practicing. Get ready to change the world.
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I am trying to think of an Original Oratory topic! I thought of this idea, but don’t know if this is even great. Any topic ideas I can try to do? ( self.Debate )
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Original Oratory / Expository Speech TournamentWhen: Thursday, February 11,
2016 — 8:30 am to 1:30 pm
Where: Palmer Junior Middle School
Timeline: Student participant forms are due to teachers or Ms. Turk by Friday, February 5. NO EXCEPTIONSSee Ms. Turk or LA
teachers to submit your name for a speech.
Expository Speaking — (informative)
The purpose of expository speech is to describe, clarify, explain
and/or define an object, idea, concept, social institution or process.
full investigation on the subject you have chosen.
background and definitions of the terms that are appropriate, because sometimes
your audience doesn’t know anything about your topic.
reliable sources for facts, evidence, statistics, examples, and quotations (of
less than 150 words).
HAVE A VISUAL TO GO ALONG WITH YOUR SPEECH. Visuals may be computer based
(flipchart, PowerPoint, etc.), or a poster/presentation board. Bring
digital presentations on a USB drive.
Indicate your presentation format on your registration.
limit 3 to 5 minutes.
Original Oratory — (persuasive or evocative)
The purpose of the Original Oratory speech is to present a persuasive
or evocative argument on a topic of your choice. As an orator you will be expected to
discuss the topic you have chosen, intelligently with a degree of originality,
in a way that is interesting and beneficial to your audience.
§ deal with a current problem and propose a
§ promote a cause
§ eulogize a person
§ alert audience to a threatening danger
orator is given free choice of subject and judged solely on the effectiveness
of development and presentation.
limit 3 to 5 minutes.
– (on the spot!)
must participate in either the Expository or Original Oratory event.
Contestants will draw three topics and select one
Contestants will have three minutes to prepare a speech
Contestants can use a single note card to prepare and perform
Time limit 2 to 5 minutes.