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.