March 25, 2019

International Oratory Competition

2019 International Oratory Competition

Co-sponsored by the Association du Jeune Barreau de Montréal/Young Bar Association of Montreal's (YBAM)

Registration and Deadlines

Online contestant applications must be submitted by April 19, 2019. Individuals will be notified regarding their selection and assigned topic by April 26, 2019.


In collaboration with the Association du Jeune Barreau de Montréal/Young Bar Association of Montreal’s (YBAM) English Oratory Competition, the ABA YLD’s International Oratory Competition aims to showcase the oratory skills of each contestant and to provide a valuable networking opportunity for lawyers from all over the world. Humor and satire are strongly encouraged!

Date and Venue:

Friday, May 3, 2019
3:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
ABA YLD Spring Conference
Washington Marriott Georgetown
1221 22nd Street, NW
Washington, DC

The winning orator will receive two complimentary tickets to the Friday evening Spring Dinner Dance at the Library of Congress.


Any lawyer attending the ABA YLD Spring conference, able to speak English fluently, who is under the age of 36 or has been admitted to the practice of law for five years or less can submit an application.   Participation is limited to 8 -10 contestants.  Slots will be filled on a first come first served basis with the goal of having representation from as many different international bar organizations as possible and 3 – 5 participants from the United States.


  • Is 2019 the Year of Donald or the Year of Theresa?
  • To Tweet or Not to Tweet
  • The Star Spangled Banner vs. O Canada
  • Brexit 1776 vs. Brexit 2019
  • What is the meaning of a Trump card?
  • The Notorious BIG vs. The Notorious RBG
  • Better Football: American Football or Soccer?
  • What would you rename the Washington Redskins and Why?
  • Washington Monument vs. Lincoln Memorial: which is better?
  • National Mall vs. Pall Mall (and how do you pronounce Pall Mall)


The jury, whose composition will be confirmed shortly, will be presided by over by ABA YLD Chair, Tommy Preston.


  • Humor and satire are strongly encouraged and even part of the judging!
  • The speech is to be no more than 5 minutes in length.  Contestants going over will be penalized.
  • The Jury with have 2 -3 minutes to ask questions.
  • The speech must be an original work, by one speaker, not used in a previous competition.
  • Props, costumes, and audiovisuals are not allowed.  A prop refers to any physical item which might be used to animate or illustrate the speech.  A costume refers to a part or all of the speaker’s attire that is worn for the purpose of enhancing a particular speech, instead of being part of the conference attire.
  • Gratuitous vulgarity is not allowed.  Gratuitous vulgarity refers to vulgar, obscene, or profane language or gestures which are included for shock value.
  • Directly quoted material may comprise a maximum of 20% of the total words in the speech.
  • All outside sources must be cited within the speech.
  • Use of notes during a speech is allowed.  The judge may consider this in ranking contestants if he/she so chooses.
  • Prompting or assistance from audience members during the speech is not allowed.
  • Audience laughter, which extends the time of a piece, should not penalize the speaker.


The following criteria will be evaluated by the Jury: content, delivery, language and entertainment value.

Content - Speech development, effectiveness, and value. Areas to be considered:

Speech Development

  • Did the speech have a clearly defined opening, body, and conclusion?
  • Were the speaker’s ideas presented in an easy-to-follow, logical sequence?
  • Did the speaker use effective transitions while moving from one concept to the next?

Speech Effectiveness

  • Audience reactions?
  • Subject presented clearly?

Speech Value

  • Did the speaker have a substantive, logical, clearly-defined message?
  • Were the speaker’s thoughts original?
  • Was the speech in good taste?

Delivery - How was the content presented?
Areas to be considered:


Appearance, body language (appropriate and purposeful?), and use of speaking area


Flexibility and volume, modulation to show emotion, adequate volume? Enunciation?


Confident, enthusiastic, show concern for the audience?

Language - Reflects use of the English language including word choice and grammatical skill.
Areas to be considered:


Does the word choice fit the speech, audience, and occasion? Does the word choice promote understanding of the message as the speaker intended?


Grammar, pronunciation, word selection. Does language reflect study and preparation?  Effective word choice?

Entertainment Value – Was it funny or not?