Please see the Middle Level Speech Contests page for recent rules changes and for the Handbook with complete rules.

2020-21 Middle Level Speech Topics

Moments in History

Choose one or both time periods:

  • 1920s (1920-1929)
  • 1600s (1600-1699)

Examples of areas students might consider:  politics, military action, historic sites, monuments, natural disasters, ethnology, legends, folklore, science, inventions, medicine, arts,  entertainment, geography, transportation, sports, religion, heroes, villains, personalities, significant speeches, fashion, and fads.

Special Occasion

Choose one occasion:

  • New product launch announcement
  • Rally speech focused on cause/issue
  • Speech arguing against school program budget cuts
  • Eulogy for a political figure

Extemporaneous Speech

This year’s questions focus on systemic racism.

  • Why is the term “privilege” so controversial?
  • What are the impacts of equity versus equality?
  • How can police departments prevent brutality against individuals who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color?
  • How does implicit bias impact education?
  • What are the impacts of racism in healthcare?
  • What anti-racist reforms are needed in the U.S. criminal justice system?
  • How does racism impact mass media?
  • What impact have protests had in addressing racism in the United States?
  • What are microaggressions, and why are they a problem?
  • How do food insecurity and food deserts disproportionately impact families of Color?
  • How does redlining impact individuals and families of Color?
  • What federal laws could be passed to mitigate systemic racism?

Speech Contest Categories

Brief descriptions are not a substitute for full rules. Please download the Handbook on the Middle Level Speech Contests page.

Public Speaking

Students write original speeches, and may use notes to outline or include speaking points, rather than word-for-word manuscripts (so they can engage better with audiences).

Category Max. Time Visuals Description
Demonstration Speech
10 min.
1-2 speakers demonstrate how to do something or how something works.
Extemporaneous Speech
6 min.
30 minutes prior to speaking, the contestant will select a question from which to phrase a direct and clear answer and support it with evidence and reasoning.
Informative Speech
4 min.
Present a speech with a narrow enough topic to be developed adequately in the time provided to share knowledge, educate and/or raise awareness.
Moments in History
6 min.
Explore an historical topic within prescribed topics, using such sources as archival records, diaries, personal interviews, letters, newspapers, etc.
News Reporting
10 min.
1-3 students develop a newscast surrounding current events, suitable for TV or radio, reading from a manuscript.
Persuasive Speech
8 min.
Persuade with compelling language by offering a solution to a problem; to take action in response to a situation; or potentially reinforce and strengthen attitudes.
Special Occasion
4 min.
Responding to a prescribed topic area, deliver a speech appropriate to a specific occasion and its probable audience by entertaining, persuading, or informing.

Performance of Literature

Contestants interpret literature to convey the human existence, exploring psychology of characters, to mine the artistry of language, and/or cultivate arguments surrounding themes/issues. Key: = performed from manuscript; = memorized.

Category Max. Time Mode Genres Description
Non-Original Oratory
8 min.
The contestant presents a speech originally delivered by someone else.
Play Acting
10 min.
Single play (dramatic literature)
2-7 performers act a scene or cutting from a single play with emphasis on character development, ensemble, and appropriate physical movement.
Poetry Reading
8 min.
Poetry, verse, song lyrics
One or more poems center on a theme or emotion; delivery mines the artistry of language.
Prose Reading
8 min.
Short stories, cuttings from novels, drama, essays, nonfiction
One or more works of prose -- including short stories, cutting from novels, drama, essays, or other non-fiction work -- center on a specific theme or emotion.
Readers Theatre
10 min.
Any except drama
2-7 readers compile and present a script with symbolic interpretation such that the audience imagines action being described rather than witnessing it being performed.
Solo Acting
8 min.
Any genre
The contestant convincingly acts characterization(s) to transport the audience to the world of the material peformed.
8 min.
Any genre; most often, narrative prose
Chronicle and perform events in a coherent, unified, clear, and interesting manner, while seated and conveying a sense of audience for one of the prescribed topic areas.
Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top