Choosing a Declamation Piece for High School

Stacy Zeiger
Public speaking is an important skill.

From speeches by ancient historians to those given by modern U.S. presidents, you can find a wealth of possible declamation pieces through online speech banks and anthologies of famous speeches. Many online resources feature audio and video of the original speeches to help you understand the power behind the original speech.

What Is a Declamation Piece?

A declamation piece is a speech that was originally given by a well-known orator. Declamation speeches originated in ancient Greece as a way for people to practice public speaking skills, and they have now evolved into a common practice for high school students as a way to learn how to give oral presentations and improve speaking skills. The National Catholic Forensic League has a yearly public speaking event where students compete and give their declamations. The competition is for students in grades nine or ten and the pieces cannot be more than ten minutes long. Many students choose famous speeches and literary works for their declamation piece, with the idea being to recite the speech with the same power and authority as the original speaker. The speech should be memorized and conveyed in a way that is memorable, although not acted out. The speech should also be spoken in a way that is subtle and detached, not dramatic.

Speeches to Choose From

Here are some interesting speeches that would be appropriate for a declamation piece for high school:

More Online Resources for Speeches

Here are some additional websites that will help with choosing a speech:

How to Choose Your Declamation Piece

There are hundreds of speeches that could work as a declamation for high school students who are involved in speech, debate, or forensics. Here are some tips on choosing a great speech and theme:

  • Focus on speeches that utilize masterful and eloquent language.
  • Search for speeches with themes or topics you can relate to in order to help you better capture the emotion.
  • Choose a speech you understand.
  • Use a political or historical speech given by an important figure, such as a president, author or religious leader.
  • Choose a speech with a great message.
  • Choose a religious sermon or eulogy.
  • Use poetry, narrative works, or folk tales.
  • Use a recent speech from a current event.

Giving Your Declamation Piece

Remember too that practice makes perfect. Listen to your speech several times before you have to deliver it. Try to deliver it in such a way as to invoke emotion in your audience. Think about how the speech communicates the key ideas to the audience. Once you've practiced several times, you are ready.

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Choosing a Declamation Piece for High School