Declamation Speeches

Performing declamation speeches has been recorded since Ancient Greece, where public servants were taught how to speak publicly by giving a speech in front of their class. It helped teach them how to speak publicly without the pressure of creating their own speeches.

A declamation speech is basically the act of speaking theatrically or formally and is often associated with reciting a prepared speech. The speech must be practiced so that the speaker may give a speech with certain gestures and intonation. In schools, the most common declamation speeches are from famous figures.

Examples of the most common declamation speeches heard in schools are:

  • Richard the III - Now is the winter of our discontent...
  • Martin Luther King, Jr - I have a dream...
  • Hamlet - Alas, poor Yorik...

Many schools and colleges will also have fun reciting-imitation competitions, where students may choose a declamation speech from famous movie characters like Hannibal Lecter. However, you only need to learn a recited speech.

Here are a few tips for rehearsing your declamation speech:

Make sure you understand the speech and the reason the person you are portraying gave it. Memorize every word. Otherwise the words will sound empty. Research into the piece's context to discover the speaker's real motives for giving it. Who was the speaker giving it to and why did they react the way they did?

Research the original speaker's mannerisms and style. Did the speaker have certain characteristics which you can copy? What emotions did the speaker attach to the words? What emotions do you attach to the words?

If you could put the speech into your own words, how would you say it? Do not deliver the speech in monotone. Copy the original speaker's voice tone and pace. If you cannot find a video of the original speech then insert your own breath points and changes in pitch, tone, and style.

Does the speech have a beat or rhythm? Are some points more persuasive than others? You must incorporate all these points into your recitation if you want to achieve the desired effect. Even great speeches can be boring if they are delivered poorly.

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