To do well in an elocution contest, Speech and Drama Festival or Exam you must speak clearly, loudly and with expression. If you can manage to master all three of these skills you will stand a very good chance of doing well.
The first thing you have to do is make sure that the audience can hear you. There's no point in speaking clearly with expression if no one can hear you.
If you open your mouth wider than you do in ordinary everyday speech the sound will be able to get out.
Another thing that will help the audience to hear you is if you speak slowly. Your voice will have to carry quite a long way so the sound needs time to get to the listener. Make sure you finish all of your words, say every 't' and 'd' at the the of the words, particularly in words like 'and', 'but' and 'get'. These are common everyday words so we tend not to give them any thought. Don't let bet be confused with bed or beg - they all begin the same but they have different endings and the audience need to hear those endings.
Clear articulation will also slow you down - which is good.
I have some voice exercises here for you to practice.
I cannot over emphasise the importance of pausing. This gives you a chance to take a breath and gives your listeners a chance to take in what you have said. Everyone should pause at a comma, full stop, exclamation mark and before an important word or after an important word.
Having said that you need to slow your speech down, you also need variety. Variety of pace, power and pitch. This will make what you say sound interesting and easy to remember.
Once you've picked out the important words you need to make them stand out. This can be done by pausing, by saying them louder, by using inflection in your voice, by using facial expression and by altering the pitch of your voice.
When you're speaking to an audience make eye contact with the audience and judges from time to time. If you're reading out loud this will be on the important words, if you're speaking from memory this will be most of the time.
If you have to speak from memory make learning the words your very first priority. Until you know the words, they cannot become part of you and you will find it very hard to speak with expression if you're still struggling with the words.
If you would like just one lesson to go over your contest pieces please contact me using the form near the bottom of the page.
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If you have been asked to judge an elocution contest, what should you look for?
First of all you need to be able to hear the competitor. Then listen to see if you can hear the words clearly, are they being articulated well. Are the 't' and 'd' sounds being put on the end of the words. Is the competitor using his tongue correctly to get the 'th' sound or does it sound like 'd'?
How fast are they speaking? Is it too fast for you to enjoy the performance?
These technical skills are important but a person could be technically brilliant and still sound boring.
A good speaker needs to sound interesting, they need to be able to put expression into their speech.
Do they have variety in their pace and pitch?
Do they make the important words stand out?
Would you like to listen to them read or perform more?