Declamation: The Renegade Event

Depending on your location in the United States, Declamation might not be an offered event for your league.  Or if it is offered it might be an event only available for freshmen or sophomores to compete.  Certainly every league has their rational for their opposition to carry (or marginally offer) this event.  Perhaps it is because Declamation is often seen as a precursor for Original Oratory.  Maybe it is because the National Forensics League does not even acknowledge its existence.  Whatever the cause, Declamation is beyond a supplemental or consolation event--it is a renegade that manages to surface among the "official" Forensics events.

If your league has decided to carry Declamation at tournaments refrain from looking down at this speaking event.  Do not think that only amateurs venture into Declamation rounds.  There are numerous reasons to try this event, some of which are not so obvious:

  • Better your public speaking skills. Some who join Forensics do so to overcome fears of public speaking.  Declamation is a "safe" event to learn how to address an audience in that you have source material to work with.  Having the pressure of creating your own speech and then perform it might be too stressful for someone who is trying to get comfortable in front of a crowd.
  • Master speech delivery. Declamation is a fabulous event to learn about the basics of delivering a speech before moving into Original Oratory.  As stated above, the anxiety of researching and preparing your own speech is non-existent so you can focus on the nuances of what makes a great speaker.  You will become skilled at projection, gestures, use of vocals/silence, and movement from preparing your speech.
  • Master speeches technically. Because you have a script and use it to solve all answers you will learn what makes good writing.  After pouring over your piece relentlessly the nuances of what constitutes good writing will be embedded in your mind.  You will know how to spot good diction, support, and structure.  These skills you develop will be important when you sit down to write your Original Oratory or in school.
  • Great for double entry. Declamation can be an excellent event to do for double entry because of its straightforward nature.  Speeches can be found everywhere with a basic search: Internet, library, textbooks.  The hard part is reading and finding one you like.  This event is also "less" involved being as once you have your material you are basically set.  Minor cuts might need to be made, but your main job is to memorize, interpret, and write an introduction.  There is no placing in a binder, no multiple characters to develop, no stress over writing a piece.  Declamation is an event to be respected and it does offer its own challenges, but it will not drive you mad with trying to memorize character pops.
  • Endless possibilities. As this event is a renegade it has few guidelines.  Your piece must have been a published work that has been delivered in public before.  That can be most anything political, informational, a eulogy, a debate, a commencement speech, ANYTHING.  It does not matter who delivered it so you can look into historical figures or even comedians for a speech.  A Declamation can be humorous or dramatic.  This openness allows for a freedom other events cannot extend.
  • Helps with school. Giving a speech for class is a common occurrence in school.  If you can become a pro at Declamation than any presentation your teachers will subject you to will be nothing.

Be mindful these are selective reasons.  Declamation has more pros, and the list could continue, but these major perks should be all that is necessary to explain why this event is worth an attempt.  Remember, do not judge it as an event for novice only.  Do not label it as the lowly because the NFL does not list it with their events.  Declamation is a renegade event that not all get to participate in, but those who do adore it.