Why does this always happen to me? Whether it’s a paper, a report, or my thesis, whenever I’m so close to the end I get writer’s block. For my thesis I have about four pages of general conclusions left to write and I’m stuck. My main problem is I don’t want to be repetitive. My thesis chapters are written as papers so each chapter has it’s own conclusion; however, the thesis needs it own general conclusion. Every time I write something in the general conclusions I realize I’ve already said that in some other chapter. It’s getting really annoying. Yesterday I tried the theory of just write even if it’s crap. That usually works for me but this time not so much. I re-read that page today and it is not good. I just want to get these last few pages done but it’s agonizing! On a related note, my supervisor still is skirting the issue with respect to setting a defense date and an external examiner. I think that is contributing to my lack of effort in finishing the last few pages of my thesis. In my mind, I wonder why I’m putting so much effort in when he wants to put off my defense for months. I will spare you my endless complaints about my supervisor and defending because I could go on forever. The short version is that I’m sick of him prolonging and dragging this out so I’m going to talk to the chair of my department about my options. We’ll see how that goes. This is the main reason I haven’t updated my blog lately. I’ve been very bitter and as my mother always says, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. I’m still bitter but I’ve managed to rein it in somewhat to appear cheery on the outside.

Humor helps to engage the audience, lighten the mood, and, bluntly put, ward away boredom. To some humor is arguably necessary for a successful OO, but too much can ruin a speech. This is not HI. As nice as a few clever jokes can be throughout the speech, too many does not fit with the serious tone of the event. Throw a copious amount in and your Original Oratory will become more like a stand-up routine. If you want to do comedy than forgo Original Oratory and find an HI or Duo. Lose credibility. When people are told factual information, and analysis to match, they want to receive it from a source that is credible. Part of what determines credibility is the manner in which something is delivered. Image matters. Goofing around excessively when you are talking about an issue of concern can take the audience away from the topic and leave them wanting laughs. Your image can turn from an OO competitor into a comedian.

This is not The Daily Show and you are not Jon Stewart–do not try to capture the trust, credibility, and charm he exudes because most likely you will not. He’s been mastering for over a decade. Lose focus. If peppering in humor becomes your sole objective than your OO will fail. The backbone of the event is the speech. What makes a great speech in Original Oratory include a good thesis, research, analysis, and structure. Focus on those, not the laugh. Sacrificing content to squeeze a chuckle into the writing is a poor choice. Your OO should revolve around a thesis not a joke. As you write your piece remember that. Awkward situation. With comedy comes a slew of complications. Have you considered how the judge will compare you to the others in your round? Never should you blend in, but far too many jokes instantly separates you from the rest of your competitors.

And this might not be a good separation. A judge might think you are not handling a fragile topic with enough maturity. They just might not know what to make of your Original Oratory’s comedic spin. Also, what if what is funny to you is not to others? Comedy also requires timing and an active audience; two things you might not have. Telling a joke and receiving zero laughs is awkward. Now multiply that if you have numerous jokes laced within your piece. Humor is an amazing tool. Original Oratories with some jokes tend to do better in competition. It might be because laughter loosens the audience up, which in turn loosens the speaker, which ultimately can lead to a more confident delivery. It could be because moderate humor shows another side of the competitor the judge may never have seen. Whatever the reason, laughter draws people in. However, this is Original Oratory.

Standards of decorum exist and that includes maintaining some level of integrity through a serious message. Keep the audience hooked but leave the rolling on the floor business to Humorous Interpretation, Duo, and the Marx Brothers. Writing an Original Oratory is a never-ending process. Between you, your coaches, teammates, and judges there are always edits and revisions to be made while perfecting the speech. Hopefully these alterations will be minor; revisions are expected, massive-overhauls usually equate to a more severe symptom a minor rewrite cannot fix. In order to ensure that massive surgery does not need to be performed after a competition it is essential to write a fairly solid Original Oratory at the start of the process. Begin with a strong base that can be improved upon. This is simpler to say than to achieve. When one pair of eyes are the only ones an OO sees mistakes are overlooked. But aside from a coach, who are some people you can turn to for Original Oratory advice?

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