So, your Sunday School teacher, parent, Godparent, or friend told you about the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival. After some consideration, you are leaning towards trying it. Besides getting up in front of an audience to present your speech, one other thing is holding you back...actually writing a speech. While this might be your first time writing a speech, this skill is something that you’ll use throughout your life. Learning it now will help you in the future.
Whether you are preparing your first (or fourth) speech for the Oratorical Festival, these tips can help you organize your thoughts and write something you will be proud and excited to present.
- Read through and select your topic. Each year, the Oratorical Festival releases new topics for the Junior and Senior Divisions. The topics for the 2019 festival can be found here. While you are reading through the topics, think about which ones you are immediately drawn to, either because you can relate to it or have an immediate point of view. Remember that you will need to speak on the topic for a minimum of three minutes and maximum of four if you are in the Junior division, and a minimum of four minutes and maximum of five if you are in the Senior division. You’ll want to choose a topic that you will feel comfortable expanding upon in a few different ways.
- Remember the goal. Any writer will tell you that before they write a piece of content, they have a goal in mind. Whether it be to explain, persuade, tell a story, or sell something. Typically, in school, you are used to writing research papers. The goal for your Oratorical Festival speech is to persuade and tell a story, which is a bit different than your standard research paper. You need to showcase your understanding of the topic and present it in a manner that captivates the audience. If this is your first time writing a speech, it might be helpful to study other presenters. Watch TED talks, listen to former presidents speak, pay close attention to your priest in his weekly sermons, and jot down what you notice about the structure, tone, length, etc. of various speeches.
- Decide on your point of view. The topics are intentionally developed so that they can be expanded upon in many different ways. Determine the direction you want to take your speech and then break the topic out into smaller chunks that you can address in a speech via an outline. The beauty of the Oratorical Festival is that although someone may speak on the same topic as you, the speeches will still be completely different. No one has the same life experiences and thoughts as you, so use what you know to help craft your speech.
- Consult outside sources. Now that you have an outline written, you will be able to see very clearly what areas you’ll need to research. The Oratorical Festival provides a participant packet complete with recommended resources and readings. Utilize that as your starting point and consider reaching out to your priest or Sunday School teacher for additional resources. Take notes and highlight key messages that you want to tie into your speech.
- Start writing. Before you open up a Word document, do your cross and say a prayer to God to help you share His word. Another wonderful aspect of the Oratorical Festival is that you get to share your faith and God’s word with a congregation. Use your research, outline, and point of view to write your speech. You’ve got this!
Best of luck writing your speech, we have faith in you! The process should be fun and you will learn a valuable skill that can be carried with you throughout life. Don’t forget to consult this year’s participant packet for more guidance.
Stay in touch with the Oratorical Festival by liking our Facebook page and following the oratorical_festival account on Instagram. If you are a previous participant and would like to share your story, or you are a passionate advocate for the program and would like to write a blog with advice for students, parents or chairpersons, please contact Stephanie Orfanakos.