Speech Festivals and speech and drama exams are held all over the world.
One of the most important things I teach pupils is to slow down. Most people, children and adults, speak too quickly.
Always introduce your piece - say the title and the author/poet. Do this slowly so that the first impression the examiner gets is a good one. You don't want them to think you speak too quickly before you even start your main piece. Look up on the first few words and speak slowly and clearly but with plenty of expression.
Try not to speed up as you get towards the end - the end is as important as the beginning. If you have a time limit make sure you are well inside that so you are not rushing to get it all in on time. If the time limit is 2 minutes I would suggest that on your first reading (when choosing a piece) you make sure it is no longer than 1 minute 30 seconds. If you want to choose a shorter piece the unwritten rule (unless otherwise mentioned) is that it should be no shorter than half the maximum time. So if they say max of 2 mins try not to be shorter than 1 min.
If you are reciting a poem from memory stand with your hands by your side and try very hard not to sway backwards and forwards or from side to side. When reciting poetry do NOT act it, the whole purpose of festivals and exams is to use your voice so no hand movements or acting of any kind apart from facial expressions. If you want to act take an acting exam or enter the acting class in the festival.
If you are reading aloud - hold the book so that it doesn't hide your face and remember to look up at the audience/examiner/adjudicator from time to time.
You must always sound the final consonant in a word especially the 't' and 'd'. Any 't' or 'd' in the middle of the word must also be heard. Vowel sounds will bring your piece and your speaking alive so open your mouth so that the sound can get out.
Of course the most important thing in any speech festival or speech and drama exam is to enjoy yourself.
If you are taking part in a festival or taking an exam and would like a Skype lesson to help you please look at this page.