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How to Format Your Oratory - A Speech Resource from Lizzy Cozzens

Back when Lizzy Cozzens was a team captain for the Rock Springs High School Speech and Debate Team, she put together some helpful resources for novice orators. She has kindly agreed to make these available to the larger community. This is a helpful guide for platform competitors who need help formatting their Original Oratory.


How to Format an Original Oratory by Lizzy Cozzens

*note: this is more of a suggestive outline; not an absolute must


Begin with either a cool analogy or story that you can use to give your speech a unique

edge. For example, if you’re doing an oratory on saving the bees, then start by talking about how you love “The Bee Movie." There are a bunch of old oratories out there that you could refer to for more inspiration.


Nobody likes them, but ya gotta. Generally you’ll write this (and maybe your introduction) after the body of your speech is already done. Here’s where you’ll outline what main points you’ll be covering. Sometimes it’s cool to do a fun gimmick or extend the analogy at this part because roadmaps are literally so boring.

First Point

So, generally the format of a speech goes like this: small problem, bigger problem, and

then solutions/talking points. For your first point try to focus on the more personal impacts of what you’re describing. Or, if it’s already a fairly large issue, then talk about something like immediate impacts. Going back to the bee idea, this point could cover stuff like losing jobs, mental health of beekeepers, and dead flowers.

Second Point

Go crazy here. The stuff you’re talking about probably won’t make or break the world,

but act like it does. There’s usually research to back it up. Talk about the bigger stuff here. Why is the world so heavily impacted by this issue? With the bees, you’d probably talk about how scientists predict that we’ll enter into a post-apocalyptic society if we don’t save the bees in the next five years and how wars have broken out over honey.

Third Point

If you’re talking about something that needs to be fixed, then offer solutions. If you’re

advocating for something, give your audience steps for how to get where they should be. If you haven’t referred back to your analogy from the intro, now might be a good time to do so. Give ways to save the bees.


Make people cry. That’s the only way you’re going to make the conclusion interesting,

because otherwise it’s just a repeat of the introduction. Go over what you talked about, but add some final thoughts that really add some thought and feeling to what you’ve been saying.

Stuff You’ll Want to Include

Personal story: When and how you put this in your oratory depends on your topic. If it’s pretty dramatic, I’d suggest doing it in the second or third point so you have time to ease into it. Otherwise, you do you.

A powerful quote: There are a lot of smart people out there. Use their words.

Jokes: No one likes 10 minutes of death and despair. You probably have a sense of

humor, so use it.

Death: We all fear death. Your audience probably wants to avoid it - so if you tell them

how, they’ll probably like you more.

Answers to Questions You’ll Probably Have

How long should my oratory be?

I'd say, give or take 1,460 words. However, I would strongly suggest writing a lot more for your initial draft. It’s a lot easier to edit stuff out rather than edit stuff in.

How do I find a competitive topic?

First of all, if you focus on that it’ll be a lot harder. Do what you’re passionate about. But on that note there’s another article on the way that has some steps you can take.

How do I know that this topic will be unique?

Sometimes you don’t. Even if it hasn’t been a common topic in previous years, sometimes some weird group-voodoo happens throughout the state and everyone chooses similar topics. If this happens, it’s up to you whether or not you

want to change your oratory.

A Writing Trick I Use

Don’t worry about starting at the beginning. You’ve picked your topic and have probably

done some research. So, you have thoughts. Start there. You can always write an introduction and conclusion and whatever else later. You’ll feel a lot less overwhelmed if you write what you already have in mind.

The thing to remember: Don’t be afraid of being perfect or writing a really good speech. Just get something on paper that kind of resembles a coherent line of thought and people will edit from there.


Lizzy Cozzens is currently studying Criminal Justice at the University of Wyoming. She competed for the Rock Springs Speech and Debate Team all four years. She is super cool. Lizzy finished 2nd at State in Oratory her junior year and competed in a wide variety of speaking and debate events including: OO, Duo, Poetry, POI, LD, BQ, Policy, PF, Info, and Drama.


More great stuff from Lizzy on One Clap:

Speech Spotlight:

How to Pick An Oratory Topic:


Our One Clap and Wyoming Speech and Debate community mourns with the Kramer family and the many others who loved and appreciated Mack Kramer - a Rock Springs and University of Wyoming debater who was tragically taken away from us too soon. Mack was a kind, hard-working, hilarious, brilliant soul, and they will be deeply missed. Rest in peace, Mack.


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