Boone County High School Forensics


Original Oratory 


When practicing OO with students, make sure to focus on both content and presentation. Like all memorized pieces, your ability to effectively coach a student is minimized if their piece isn’t memorized. If a student attends a practice session with most of the piece not memorized, encourage them to spend that practice session memorizing the piece instead. If the OO isn’t written, work with the student on drafting and writing the speech. Because Info and OO are similar events, peer-coaching guidelines are also similar.


  • Because students have to write and revise their OOs before practicing, the first practice session or two may focus more on creating the speech than rehearsing it. While coaches will have to give the final approval for a speech topic, students will appreciate any help brainstorming ideas, researching sources, outlining, writing, revising, etc.


  • Always encourage students to have a hard copy of their speech with them at practice. That way, you can reference the written copy if you need to revise a sentence or examine why a paragraph could be improved. It may also help students to annotate their speech for areas like tone, walk, hand gestures, etc.  


  • Remember that OOs should be both informative/persuasive and interesting. Be on the lookout for this during the writing/drafting process and note any concerns you have when a student is brainstorming topics.


  • Is there a clear structure or organization in the info? Could you remember the main idea and body points five minutes after the speech? Try this, and if the answer is no, figure out why. Are the points not clearly stated or repeated? Are the body points too similar? Was one point longer and more developed than another?


  • If the speech is persuasive, do you legitimately feel moved to think or act differently at the end? Did you learn or realize something you were unaware of before? The student can accomplish this through both content and presentation. If you feel as if the speech isn’t informative/persuasive enough, reference points in the speech that could be more effective if a different tone was used, a statistic was added, etc.  


  • Like with all speaking events, tone, diction, voice inflection, hand gestures, etc. are important. Coach students on how to use the speech walk to help organize their speech. Make sure gestures are natural without being sloppy. If a student is rushing through the speech or speaking monotone, try working on just a paragraph at a time, coaching them through how to emphasize important sections.


  • It may help students to imagine emphasis as italics. Just like how your brain internally emphasizes italicized words/phrases while reading, so too should they emphasize parts in a speech that hold the same type of depth or meaning.


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