One of the best I ever faced...

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Although there are many people I could profile, one of my favorite competitors I ever faced competed against me my first time at nationals in 2005. The tournament was in Philadelphia and as with all other national tournaments, it brought the best speakers in the country together for one week of fierce competition. It was at this tournament that I first met and faced Danny Carissimi from Carroll HS in Texas. His style and speech were brilliant. He was comfortable in front of thousands and brought logic and humor to forefront of a speech that emphasized the importance of history (entitled "A History All It's Own"). It was phenomenal and he placed second in the nation.

Well, I am still friends with Danny and asked him a few questions about his take on oratory. Here is our dialogue...

B- "Danny, what elements are crucial in the writing of an oratory piece?"
D- "Humor, logic and structure which suits the speaker."

B- "Who are some of the people you look up to as role models?"
D- "Bill Clinton's style and Mark Twain's writing"

B- "What is your biggest pet peeve among orators?"
D- "Interpers who turn oratory into an acting performance...its not acting"

So these are some tips from the very top; the pinnacle of speech performance and he definitely knows what he is talking about. In the next week or so, I plan to place a video of him online so you too can see his speech.

ha, a Mark Twain, Bill Clinton hybrid. Makes me chuckle with glee thinking about that combination!

"...suits the speaker." That is crucial for any competitor. Find or create something that enhances and works with YOU.

How do I decide something that suits me, though?

Practice. Trying new things. Your gut. What works best for your piece. What makes you excited to have it in the piece. What makes you feel confident when doing your OO.

If you're at a loss of how to start, begin with what you know. With structure, most schools teach the 5 paragraph paper structure (intro, body 1, body 2, body 3, conclusion). Start with what you're most comfortable with. Then, as you and your paper evolve, listen to your instincts and feedback. Maybe adding another body paragraph would better meet your needs? Maybe instead of doing a problem-solution structure within each body paragraph you decide to list all of the problems first and THEN address the solutions at the end before the conclusion.

You'll find what works best for you and your piece eventually. Eventually, you'll notice that something structurally is awkward, or that you dislike the flow it creates. It is partially a gut feeling, but you'll also get notes from judges to help guide you to a structure that works for both you and audiences.

Same goes with any humor, blocking, hand gestures, facials, etc. that you add to your OO.

Alright. Thanks a lot. :)

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