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2018-19 Middle Level Speech Topics

Moments in History

1950-1959 and/or 1400-1499  (select one or both time periods)

Students may consider, but are not limited to these topic areas:  Politics or Military Action, Historical Sites/Monuments, Natural Disasters, Ethnology/Legends/Folklore, Science/Inventions/Medicine, Arts and Entertainment, Geography, Transportation, Sports, Religion, Heroes or Villains, Personalities, Significant Speech, Fashion and Fads.

Special Occasion

Select one occasion to develop a speech for:

  1. A principal’s welcome to incoming students
  2. A recruitment speech
  3. A ribbon cutting speech
  4. A school office candidacy speech
  5. A tribute to someone who has impacted your life
  6. A pitch to support a community organization

Extemporaneous Speech

This year’s questions focus on how technology makes us more alone.

  1. How does social media make us feel more or less alone?
  2. How much time do children spend with technology compared to interacting with peers?
  3. What about technology has increased anxiety in people?
  4. How has text messaging impacted communication?
  5. How does lack of access to technology impact people in poverty?
  6. What is a reasonable amount of digital screen time per day for children?
  7. How has technology made conversations more challenging?
  8. How serious a threat is cyberbullying?
  9. What alternatives to technology should parents encourage their children to pursue?
  10. How has addiction to computer gaming affected people’s social skills?
  11. How has technology impacted loneliness in older people?

2018-19 Changes

  1. matching outfitsSpecified all WHSFA events are open to the public. Interscholastic contests are open to spectators; central to the educational objective of fostering public speaking involves audiences.
  2. A general meeting with adjudicators is required before all Level 1 and 2 festivals.
  3. Clarified that note cards or paper notes may be used, but are subject to evaluation.
  4. Changed Four-Minute Speech to Informative Speech and Eight-Minute to Persuasive Speech.
  5. Added allowance for visual supporting materials in Informative and Persuasive Speech, and added evaluation question for all speeches allowing visual aids that the speaker actively used them well to illustrate.
  6. Play Acting and Readers Theatre changed to a 10-minute time limit.
  7. Specify rule with costuming for Group Interpretive Reading and Play Acting: “merely dressing alike or coordinated outfits is not considered costuming” (see photo, above and to the right)
  8. Substitution rules (p. 5, #3) clarified (allows for any eligible student to substitute for an absent group member).

2017-18 Changes

Coach note:  Middle level advisors who also coach high school should use the same email address in SpeechWire when registering for contests. Include middle and high school students on the Team roster, in Your account (denote middle level students with high school graduation years).

Festival hosts/managers:

  • SpeechWire is free for taking online registration, scheduling rounds, and for tabulating results for WHSFA Level 1 and Level 2 contests; apply through the state office.
  • All schools participating in Level 1 or 2 contests must be current in WHSFA dues before the office will reimburse contest expenses. We will provide hosts/managers with a list of membership status.
  • The post-festival participation/reimbursement form must be completed online, <– click link, or within SpeechWire.


Contest Categories

Public Speaking

  • Demonstration Speech:  A demonstration speech explains how to do something or how something works. The speaker(s) must demonstrate a process using objects or physical activity. Visual aids (charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, pictures, etc.) are optional, and may be used to enhance the demonstration, but are not to take the place of objects or activity. The speech must be instructive and present valuable and significant information.
  • Extemporaneous Speech: allows for the practice of the skills of research, organization and presentation of information on a question chosen by the student from a general area provided by the State Office (see above).  It is hoped that the student will do extensive research on the chosen topic area for use in the academic classroom for an oral report or a research paper.  Then, bringing all the information that has been gathered to the festival, the student will draw three questions about the topic, choose one and have thirty (30) minutes to prepare a speech which answers that question.
  • Informative  Speech:  allows for the sharing of knowledge and experience with an audience.  The main purpose of this informative speech is to secure a clear understanding of the ideas presented.  This category gives the opportunity for the participant to provide facts and ideas in an interesting and understandable fashion.
  • Moments in History Speech: The challenge to the speaker is to select a historical topic within the limits presented each year by WHSFA (see above).  The general focus for a speech is this category is an exploration in history.  Students may consider (but are not limited to) using the following areas of research: archival records, diaries, personal interviews, letters, newspapers, etc.
  • News Reporting: gives one to three students the opportunity to practice the skills for research, organization, analysis and presentation of information based on current events.  The student(s) will prepare and present a news program including news, weather, sports and an editorial.  Sources of information for this category may include newspapers, magazines, radio and television.
  • Persuasive Speech: Life situations often result in the need to convince other people to believe differently than they do at present; to offer a solution to a problem common to the group; to take a particular action in response to a current situation; or maybe to reinforce and strengthen current attitudes.
  • Special Occasion Speech: The challenge to the speaker is to write a speech appropriate to a specific occasion and its probable audience. It is possible that a speech may pursue more than one of the standard general purposes of informing, persuading, or entertaining.

Performance of Literature

  • Poetry Reading: All the skills of reading aloud, including vocal flexibility, inflectional variety, clear articulation, correct pronunciation, as well as the use of pause and rate variation can be practiced through participation in this category.  In addition, the student should remember that in poetry, more than in any other type of literature, the emotional weight of the content and the importance of image, rhythm and sound are directly related.
  • Prose Reading:  Oral interpretation has been defined as “the effective communication of thoughts or feelings of the author to the listener.”  Careful study of the written word is necessary for the interpreter to give special attention to the author’s meanings.  However, the interpretive reader should not memorize the selection.  The printed word is the source from which the reader should draw meaning to share with the audience.
  • Non-Original Oratory: A presentation in this category should be a persuasive speech that seeks to influence the beliefs and feelings of the listeners.  The speech must have originally been written and delivered by some person other than the participant.  The speech may be presented from memory or it may be read from a manuscript.
  • Play Acting: Lines are to be spoken from memory and 2-7 participants are expected to move, as they would in a fully produced play. The goal of this category is to provide a group of students with the opportunity of working together for a presentation using their voices and bodies to suggest the intellectual, emotional and sensory experiences inherent in the dramatic material they have chosen.
  • Readers Theatre: The goal of this category is to provide a group of 2-7 participants with the opportunity of working together for a presentation using their voices to suggest the intellectual, emotional and sensory experiences inherent in the material they have chosen.
  • Solo Acting: Participation in this category provides a student with the opportunity of using voice, gesture and facial expression to convey understanding and the emotional, intellectual and sensory experiences that are a part of the chosen selection.  To tell a story through pantomime is also acceptable in this category.  The material may be either original or non-original in content and may include impersonations from television, records or tape recordings.
  • Storytelling: The art of storytelling is older than reading.  Whether it is a story told in the hallways, an incident shared on the bus ride to a speech festival or a retelling of last night’s TV special to a friend who missed it, students gain confidence and poise when the response to what is said is favorable.

Full rules can be found in the  Middle Level Handbook.