[bethlehem_title text_position=”text-center” heading_size=”h2″ title=”St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival, Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, Austin, Texas”]

This festival is all about developing your voice — we want to hear your unique insights on Orthodoxy. Please take some time to explore the resources available here, and contact Julie Wynn with questions. We are happy to mentor you as much as you like! Let us know if there’s anything you need.


General Information

The St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival is an Archdiocesan project, designed to give students the opportunity to learn, write and speak about their Orthodox Faith, Church and heritage.  We hope that this experience will strengthen students’ identities as Orthodox Christians and cultivate spiritual growth and maturity.

Students are divided into three divisions: Elementary (grades 4-6), Junior (grades 7-9) and Senior (grades 10-12) Each division has its own list of topics, and while the Elementary Division is not judged, the Junior and Senior Divisions are each judged separately.

In the Elementary Division, parents are encouraged to help their children develop and write their speeches, which should be between 30 seconds and 2 minutes long. Speeches in the Junior and Senior Divisions are longer and more formal, and should be produced by the students alone (coaching and editing are encouraged, but students should be writing speeches themselves.)

The top Junior and Senior Division speakers from our Parish Festival will continue on to compete in the Metropolis Festival. The top speakers at the Metropolis Festival will win scholarships in the amount of $1,000 as well as a travel stipend to participate in the national Archdiocesan Festival.

All national finalists receive a prize:  the top three speakers in each division receive a college scholarship in the amount of $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000, respectively, and the remaining finalists receive a $500 U.S. Savings Bond. These awards are made possible by many generous donations to the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Scholarship Foundation.

  • Parish Festival: February 9, 2020 at Transfiguration Church in Austin, Texas
  • The 2020 Metropolis Oratorical Festival will be held at Holy Trinity in Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 27-29, 2020.
  • The 2020 National Archdiocesan Oratorical Festival will be held at St. Spyridon’s in Loveland, Colorado, June 12-14, 2020.


  • Your speech should clearly address one of the topics for your division.  Junior Division speeches must be 3-4 minutes in length, and Senior Division speeches must be 4-5 minutes.
  • This is not a research paper.  The goal is not to assemble a lot of facts and figures.  An effective speech captures the audience’s attention and makes them think about this topic in a new and interesting way.  You are looking to engage your audience.  Write in a conversational tone (rather than a formal tone), making your speech easy to listen to and understand.
  • Consider including anecdotes or personal stories.
  • Begin with an introduction.  You may wish to open with a question, or with an example or anecdote.  This is often called The HOOK — begin with a strong image, idea or anecdote that really captures your audience’s attention and imagination. An original and striking hook will make your speech both interesting and memorable.
  • The body of a good speech should contain both the information (communicate the details of your topic) and the personal reply (communicate your personal reaction to the topic, the ways in which you connect this to your life or to today’s society.  What does this topic mean to you, and what should it mean to your audience?)
  • Finally, offer a conclusion:  write a good ending to your speech — don’t just stop talking.  Offer something that summarizes the main idea of your speech, so that your audience walks away understanding (and remembering!) your point.  The best speeches will now remind the audience of the hook!  Bring them full-circle, right back to the idea or image or anecdote that grabbed their attention in the first place.


  • Read your speech several times silently.
  • Read your speech several times aloud.
  • Practice your delivery in front of a mirror.  Think about your posture, and your facial expressions.  Try to look at your audience when you speak, and to limit nervous movements.  Smile!  Try to talk with your audience rather than talking at them.
  • Deliver your speech to family members and to your mentor.  Ask them for comments, and be prepared to accept and consider constructive criticisms.
  • On the day of the Oratorical Festival, relax!  You’re going to do great!

Brainstorm & Research

Spend some time thinking about the topic options, and read through the articles. Think about which topics interest you most, and what you have to say about each of them.  Choose the best topic for you, and think of what your basic message will be.

Writing A Draft

Put your main message into a sentence or paragraph.  Now that you know where you are going with this, look back at your research.  Put what you have learned into your own words.  Now is the time to get lots of words onto the paper; don’t worry if they are not perfect, just get them out there.  Later, you can edit and rearrange them into better form.  Read over what you’ve written.  Does it say what you mean to say?  Share it with your parents and/or mentor, and ask for suggestions and ideas.


Go back through your speech and make sure that it makes sense.  Is it organized in a way that the audience can follow and understand?  Should some of the points be made in a different order?Is there information that should be removed?  This is a speech, not a research paper, so you may not want to quote too many facts and figures.  Make sure that everything in your speech is relevant to your point.

Is there information that should be added?  Have you left out interesting or important points?  Did you cover everything you wanted to say? Do you need to “connect the dots” between some of your points?

Look at your vocabulary.  Are you repeating certain words too often?  Are some of your meanings unclear?  Use a thesaurus to keep your wording precise and varied.

Look at your sentence structure.  Are all of your sentences following the same pattern?  Would it make sense to mix it up a bit?

Consider whether relating a story or anecdote could strengthen your speech.

Do you have a strong finish?  You want to leave the audience with a strong, clear impression.

Read the speech aloud.  Does it flow smoothly?  Does it make sense?



Junior Division – Students in grades 7 – 9
Senior Division- Students in grades l0 -12

The Speech: The speech Topic must be taken from the official list compiled by the Department of Religious Education. Speakers are expected to have prepared their own speech from personal research and experience. Quotations should be used effectively as supportive material and must have sources identified. No audio-visual material can be used. The delivery must largely be given from the lectern and should not be a dramatic presentation.

The Length: Juniors 3-4 minutes; Seniors 4-5 minutes. A l5-second grace period will be given to speakers who run under or over time. The penalties assessed are one point lost for every five seconds beyond the l5-second grace period. Such points will be deducted from each judge’s “TOTAL” for “Content and Delivery” found at the bottom of the “Speaker Evaluation Form.” The report of the timekeeper will determine if any penalties are in order.



Organization: Is there a clear introduction which draws the listeners into the speech? Is the body clearly organized with supporting information? Is the development of ideas logical and easy to follow? Does the conclusion draw the ideas together and give clear emphasis to the thesis of the speech?

Language: Did the speaker use appropriate, descriptive and convincing language?

Support of ldeas: Has the speaker analyzed the topic effectively? Was the content supported by research, personal experience and examples? Was the content theologically accurate?

Adaptation of Topic: Did the speaker use an interesting approach to the topic?  Was the subject appropriately adapted to the speaker’s capabilities?

Conclusion: Did the speaker achieve his/her goal?


Vocal Skills: Was the speaker’s voice expressive, easily understood and heard? Did the speaker’s voice effectively express the mood and feeling of the speech?

Expressiveness: Did the speaker demonstrate a desire to communicate his/her thoughts? Were pauses and phrasing effective?

Physical Movements: Did the speaker exhibit poise via posture, eye contact, facial expression? Was there effective use or overuse of movements, gestures? Did these emphasize key points?

Effective Use of Manuscript: It is not a requirement for the speech to be memorized. If a manuscript is used, did the speaker use it discreetly without relying on it throughout or having it become a distraction to the audience?

Communication: Did the speaker effectively communicate his/her thoughts with the audience by making contact with them in a conversational style?


Speaker order number:
Category:  (Check one) Junior Division    Senior Division

Point Scale:
Outstanding, Superior…. ……… 9 – l0 points
Good, better than average…….  7 – 8 points
Satisfactory, fair, average………..5 – 6 points
Below average……………………… 3 – 4 points
Ineffective…………………………….1- 2 points


_____ Effectiveness of content and organization (introduction, body, conclusion)

_____ Effective language choice and use of mechanics

_____ Support of ideas and evidence of research, theologcally accurate, ideas well developed and connected

_____ Adaptation of topic, clear, w ell-defined and supported

_____ Did the speaker effectively arrive at his/her conclusion?

_____ POINTS – Content (50 is a perfect score)


_____ Effectiveness of vocal skills (diction, volume, quality)

_____ General expressiveness (enthusiasm and desire to communicate)

_____ Physical movements, eye contact, posture, poise and facial expressions

_____ The manuscript or notes were used without being distracting

_____ Did the speaker effectively communicate his/her thoughts with the audience?

_____ POINTS – Delivery (50 is a perfect score)

_____ TOTAL POINTS – (Content and Delivery)

_____ Minus any time penalty