What is Declamation?

Declamation is a form of public speaking where students memorize and deliver famous speeches, poems and other works of literature.  Declamation helps students refine their public speaking skills while gaining confidence and poise.

Student from Regina Angelorum giving speech on Declamation Day.
Male student declaiming his speech.

Declamation at Regina Angelorum Academy

Each year, students are invited to participate in local and regional competitions.  We have three divisions of Declaimers-3rd and 4th grades, 5th and 6th grades and 7th and 8th grades. Declamation is part of the school curriculum.  Students work with their parents to select a piece to deliver, but practice in school and receive teacher feedback.

Works We Declaim

Students study, memorize and declaim (deliver) famous speeches, literature and poems.  Works include selections from John F. Kennedy’s speech in West Berlin and Winston Churchill’s “Finest Our” broadcast, excerpts from Shakespear’s Henry V and Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, readings from CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s “Crusade Rallying Speech.”


There are three categories and lengths for Declamation.

  • Poetry (Grades 3 and 4): Minium of 1 ½ minutes and not to exceed 2 minutes.
  • Prose. Narratives and poems without a rhyme scheme (Grades 5 and 6): Minimum of 2 minutes and not to exceed 2 ½ minutes.

  • Orations. Speeches or plays. (Grades 7 and 8): Minimum of 3 minutes and not to exceed 3 ½ minutes.


Pieces Must:

  • Be “classical” in nature – enduring themes of what is true, good, and beautiful
  • Be new for the student and not previously memorized or recited for a prior declamation contest
  • Include a 10-20 second memorized introduction including naming the work and the author

When preparing their declamation piece, students have many areas to consider. While the timing and piece selection are important, there are other key ingredients for delivering a strong declamation.

Declamation Judgment Criteria

The speaker should convey the message in a sincere, honest, and realistic attempt to recreate the spirit of the original presentation. Although the style of delivery chosen by the speaker should be judged in light of the purpose of the speech, artificiality is to be discredited. The message should be conveyed credibly and convincingly as if the words were the speaker’s own. This event is an interpretation, not an impersonation.

The speaker should:

  • Be articulate and fluent.
  • Make use of contrast, making use of the elements of vocal variety: pitch, volume, rate, pausing, phrasing, stress, and tone.
  • Be conversational and concerned, passionate, and pleasing.
  • Be in control of the words and the emotions.
  • Sound confident and self-assured, and seem eager to enlighten the audience.
  • Should convey the message in a sincere, honest, and realistic style, in an attempt to recreate the spirit of the original presentation.

The speaker should:

  • Be physically open to the audience and use body language that invites the audience into the world of the declaimer.
  • Vary facial expressions to accentuate the natural flow of thoughts and feelings.
  • Make eye contact with the audience.
  • Have an erect and controlled stance without distracting movements. Gestures should be visible, effectively used for emphasis, and varied.
  • Be stationary during the delivery of the piece to declaim the piece by using the voice and not acting. The only exception is that the declaimer may move to denote a different speaker in the piece.
The speaker should project an understanding of the message of the piece and instill in the audience a concern for the content of the piece. The original message of the piece should not be overshadowed by the delivery.

The difficulty of the piece will be weighed.

We are enthusiastic about this year’s declaimers in 3rd through 8th grades.  We wish them joy and fortitude as they prepare their pieces for this year’s competition.


Parents help their children select the piece they are delivering.  We invite and encourage parents to work with their children on memorizing their pieces, practicing poise and delivery and mastering the context of the content they are performing.