Original Oratory Event Guidelines

About Original Oratory

Students deliver a self-written, 1 - 5 minute speech on a topic of their choosing. Students use evidence, logic and emotional appeals. Topics range widely, and can be informative or persuasive in nature. The speech can be delivered with or without notes.

Our Topic

You can find the Speech Topic for the month by going to our website's "Tournaments" tab and each month's topic is listed there.

Tournament Begins

The Tournament begins on the 1st of each month. Students can submit their entries starting the 1st.

Tournament Ends

The Tournament ends on the last day of each month at midnight (Eastern Standard Time). No new entries are permitted after that time.

Video Submissions

Please submit your video through our online form. If you have any issues you can contact us at greatdebatersonline@gmail.com. If you have any issues uploading the video, please submit the rest of this form and you can always send the video another way (Email, Phone, Social Media or whatever best for you). And/or contact us at greatdebatersonline@gmail.com.

What Your Video Should Include

Your speech should be 1 - 5 minutes long.  Please Please be sure to record your entire body!  Judges will be looking at all aspects of your speech - hand gestures, body movement, posture, etc.  So if you just record your face, we miss everything else. Studies show that audiences actually pay just as much (if not more) attention to body movement and hand movement as the actual words! And our mission is to develop public speaking skills. So please be sure to record everything.

What Your Video Should NOT include

Please do not include any personal information on your actual video. Your entry will not be accepted. If we have enough time we will try to contact you to resubmit your video, but we cannot guarantee this. So please please just record your speech and nothing more. The rest of the online form you submit will have all your personal information which will only be seen by staff. Only videos will be shared with our volunteer judges. So for your personal privacy and safety, as well as to not influence the judges with any information that could bias them (ie your school name, country, etc) please do NOT include any personal information in your video - name, address, school, city, etc.  We just want to hear you speak on your topic!


After the deadline (the last day of the month), volunteer judges will review and adjudicate speeches.  Judges will be evaluating speeches based on the factors below. See "Key Elements of Public Speaking and Original Oratory." While your speech does not have to have everything, we encourage you to try to include as many elements as you can.

Winners and Awards

Everyone is  winner. You are developing the most important superpower in the world - the power of your voice. We also email e-certificates online to everyone. We also will mail trophies, medals, and/or ribbons to the top winners in each division as well. Additionally, there are School Sweepstakes prizes as well for the schools with the most participants. Winners will be announced shortly before our next tournament takes place. Our time frame for each tournament is about 2 months - 1 month for students to submit their entries and another month to judge entries.

Key Elements of Public Speaking and Original Oratory:


Body Language. Study after study shows that audiences pay just as much attention if not more to your body language than your actual words! How you say your speech is just if not more powerful than what you say!

Hand Gestures. Use your hands! There is an entire language based on hands (Sign Language!). You can double your message and language by utilizing your hands!

Smile. Obviously this depends on your topic. But make sure at least in the beginning you smile and present yourself positively to the audience as well as the end of your speech. You want to make a good impression on your audience.

Posture. Make sure you stand straight and tall for your speech. Your legs should be at shoulder width apart.

Movement. It is okay to move a bit during your speech, especially during transitions in your speech. But try to limit movement so the audience is not distracted. When you check out the great speeches of orators like Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and everyone else - they will NOT walk around the stage. They stay in one place the entire time and usually at a podium or lectern.


Volume.  Be sure to speak loud so the audience can hear you. It also helps to project confidence and power in your speech and voice.

Tone and Pitch. At the same time you do not want to speak in the same voice the entire speech or your audience will be bored. Sometimes its okay to speak softer. Other times you may want to speak louder. Other times you may want to have  "dramatic pause" or break in your speech.

Dramatic Pause.  This is an excellent tool when you have something very important when you speak such as a startling statistic, tragic story, meaningful message or something very significant for the audience. If this is the case, then do not say it like everything else in your speech. Just like in the movies before a scary scene or big event - take a pause! The audience will then pay attention even more because you suddenly stopped your speech. This does not have to be long - only two or so seconds. But makes your speech so much more effective.

Speed. Be sure not to rush. This has always been my weakness in public speaking. I tend to rush and speed read my way through speeches.  It is not a race! And the audience will start losing you if you go too fast. If you check out the videos of all the Great Speakers, they were not speed talkers but took their time. They thought about what they would say and then would speak. Martin Luther King Jr. is a great example of always taking your time, and thinking before you speak.

Enunciation and Pronunciation. Make sure you clearly state and pronounce all words. Practice your speech before you submit your video. Make sure you know how to say every word in your speech.

Filler Words. Watch out!  No "um's" , "uhhhs" or other words to replace your real words. Just take a pause and go on!


Research.  Unless you are a Genius who knows absolutely everything, everyone else needs to do research and find evidence on the monthly speech topic! Thanks to the internet you do not need a fancy degree or library to do some basic research. I always start with Wikipedia which is a free online encyclopedia that does know everything!  And of course I always check out Google. We will have more resources and workshops on research and evidence. We will also be sending out resources on the monthly topics. 

Evidence.  After researching, make sure you include some evidence in your speech. Cite some statistics on the topic, quotations, stories, etc. Make sure you cite where your evidence is from. No need to say an entire paragraph on the source. A simple, "The New York Times reported on March 7th of this year that.... "  or "Dr. Fogel of Harvard University stated," ........"  Evidence shows that (1) you have done your research, (2) know what you are talking about, (3) you have supporters on your point of view.

Organization. We have no rules on organization. We leave it up to you. A safe bet for a speech is similar to a persuasive argumentation essay. You should have: (1) an Introduction that should have a hook or attention getter. This could be a quotation, story, statistic or anything to get your audience's attention. Remember the first 30 seconds to 1 minute is the most important part of your speech because the audience is immediately reaching a conclusion about you and your speech. You should also state the topic in your introduction. And you may even want to give a Preview of your primary points of your speech.  (2) Your Main Points.  After your introduction you should have 2-3 main points about your topic. Advanced speakers may have subpoints as well.  (3) Conclusion.   And never just say "That's it!" or "That's all folks!"  Make sure you have a powerful conclusion. This can repeat the organization of the Introduction. For example, you can return to your "attention getter" or "hook" or bring up a new one. Leave the audience with something very powerful. You should remind the audience of your topic and main points as well. And finally you should always thank the audience.

4.  Your Style!!!

Now throw out everything we just talked about! Be You! Everyone has their own style. Use it in your speech!  As a student, I had teachers who would sometimes give me a "Rubric" and told me I had to have these things in my speech or in my essay. I hated rubrics! I never wanted to think inside a box. I always tried to think outside the box!  So embrace your style! Do your own thing! Experiment! Try your speech on others ie family members, friends, or email us (greatdebatersonline@gmail.com) for feedback, suggestions, tips.  Check out the speeches of great orators you admire to get some inspiration. But in the end find your own style.  All the great orators like Martin Luther King Jr. , Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and so on - they never followed a rubric. They spoke from their hearts. That's all we ask of you!

5.  Have Fun!

But most importantly have fun! Otherwise it will probably be your last time on this website if you don't like it. Have fun with the monthly topics. Learn new things. Try new things in your speech. Check out the speeches of other students!  Speaking. Competing. Winning. Losing. Ribbons, Medals and Trophies. Current Events. The world of speech and debate is like sports but for the brain. So have fun and best of all you are learning and practicing the most powerful skill in the world - the skill of public speaking.

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