Declamation: Structure and Rules
Structurally, Declamation is quite simple. The competitor finds a speech that has previously been delivered in public, analyzes and interprets it, memorizes it, and then goes to competition with it. At competition, the competitor will perform the piece, with an introduction for the piece, during three rounds and possibly at finals if they break. Speakers are judged on their ability to interpret the text, not the previous speaker (no impersonations!). The use of facials, gestures, movements (as transitions/emphasis), intonation, diction, passion, etc. are all used as methods to rank a competitor. The better you know and understand the piece, the better you will rank.
Specific rules include:
• Speech must have been previously delivered in public (by a government official for example)
• An introduction is required (names author, title, 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
• Must be memorized
• Speeches are to be ten minutes in length (some areas’ time limits vary)
• Speech delivery should be honest and as if the words were the speaker’s own
• Eye contact is important
• All body language and vocalizations need to work with the piece to help better convey the message
• All gestures need to be visible and purposeful
• Speaker should have a strong stance
• No distracting movements (feet shifting, uncontrolled hand gestures for instance)
• Command the language!
• Although not an official rule, it is discouraged to use an Original Oratory piece in Declamation—the OO piece was constructed for Forensic competition, NOT for delivering a message to the populace