Original Oration

Goals for All Forensic Competition

Our Forensic events are designed to promote intellectual growth through friendly competition and positive educational experiences and opportunities. The goal for each participant and coach is to learn, to grow, to exercise and share skills and abilities in a courteous, polished manner.

All participants, observers, and coaches are expected to observe the general principles and concepts of:

  • Ethical behavior
  • Appropriate demeanor
  • Proper decorum
  • Honest and original best efforts
  • Free interchange of ideas

The aims and responsibilities of a speech & drama coach are to guide the intellectual development of the speakers to promote and provide opportunities for them to develop their skills, as well as to engender good sportsmanship, fair play and individual integrity. The coach is not a speech writer or a theatrical designer. The coach is primarily an educator.

The following practices are considered unethical and pedagogically unsound and are not condoned:

  • The altering of material in interpretive events that is contrary to the author’s intent.
  • The writing of speeches and introductions by anyone other than the student(s).
  • The use of canned (i.e. re-use of previously prepared) speeches for original oration.
  • The use of emotional appeals without the evidence to support them.
  • The distortion or falsification of evidence.
  • The breaching of normal courtesy by heckling, grimacing, or loud whispering while another student is speaking or performing.
  • The use of the same material in two different years by the same individual.

Description of Event

Ten minutes maximum. Six minutes minimum. This event requires an original, factual speech fulfilling the general end of persuading the audience. The speech must be the original work of the student and may not have been used in competition prior to the current L.E.S.T. Northwest. No audio-visual aids will be allowed. A manuscript must be given to the L.E.S.T. Northwest Director prior to competition. Not more than 150 words of the speech may be a direct quotation from any other speech or writing and such quotations must be identified in the typewritten copy of the speech supplied to the L.E.S.T. Northwest Director. Extensive paraphrasing from other sources is prohibited. NO NOTES ARE ALLOWED.


Judges will score each speaker along a rubric, with the final point placement being the average of the three scores. Five points shall be awarded in each of the following categories: Selection, Introduction, Structure & Delivery, Vocal Elements, and Physical Presentation. The specific scoring sheet is available by clicking the button further down this page.

Points             Placement     Award             

22-25              First                Blue                

17-21              Second                                  

10-16              Third                                      

Competitors are judged on their own performance, not compared to other performers. Awards will be given for blue ribbon winners. The judges’ rating sheets, with valuable comments, will be given to each school at the closing of L.E.S.T. Northwest. 

It is important that judges write a complete evaluation. They should not wait until the round is completed to begin writing constructive feedback! Writing during students’ speeches is permitted. It is critical for the contestants and their coaches to have the educational feedback that justifies judges’ decisions. Judges must strive to be objective in their ratings, not allowing personal opinions or biases regarding an idea or selection to predetermine their impression of a student’s presentation.

Disruption – If a judge feels that circumstances beyond a speaker’s control seriously impaired his or her presentation (for example, a fire alarm, loudspeaker announcement, etc.) the judge has the option to allow the speaker to begin again. Judges should proctor the room to maintain a positive atmosphere.

Time Limits

All forensic events are timed. A competitor’s time should be recorded on the ballot. An introduction is considered part of the speech or presentation and must be timed.

Original Oration has a 15 second “grace period” on maximum length. If the judge(s) in a round determine that a speaker has exceeded the maximum time and gone beyond the “grace period,” the speaker shall receive an automatic one-point deduction. If the student fails to reach the minimum time (no grace), the student shall receive an automatic one-point deduction.

How to Participate

Each school should indicate on the L.E.S.T. Northwest Registration Form their intention to participate in the Original Oration Competition.

When registering, if a competitor had not yet chosen the source material for their performance piece, the title and author of the selection may be submitted later by returning again to the registration form, submitting no later than January 17, 2024.

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