Middle Level Speech Categories & Topics

Handbook & Recent Rules Changes

  • Handbook
  • 2020-21
  • 2019-20
  • Earlier

Middle Level Handbook

Handbook updated Jan. 20, 2021.

  1. Special dispensations for the 2020 virtual season:
    1. Level 1 and 2 will be statewide contests (not regional), with prerecorded video submissions to be asynchronously adjudicated during windows of dates.
    2. For virtual participation, coaches should avoid identifying their school in submitted videos/video channels.
    3. Group entries may be recordings of videoconference (such as Zoom) or recorded in-person with students socially distanced, not touching, and wearing masks. Limiting groups to 2-3 students is encouraged.
    4. Only one adjudicator qualifying score (instead of two) is required to move from Level 1 to 2. Two A-level scores will still be required to earn a blue ribbon at Level 2. All Level 1 participants will receive a sticker.
    5. There will be no overall team entry limits.
    6. A synchronous Debate Festival will be offered as a separate contest for any interested schools; students may enter this as well as their normal Speech category.
    7. At a later date (early December), WHSFA will announce additional, specific guidelines for video submission, as well as penalties for violations of rules as provided for this virtual season.

Full rules can be found in the Middle Level Handbook.

No rules changes were made for this season. Please review changes for the past two school years, just to refresh your memory! laughing Full rules can be found in the Middle Level Handbook.

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.

Online Winter-Spring Season

WHSFA has consulted the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, as well as DPI, WIAA, WSMA, NFHS, and similar organizations. All 2020-21 contests will be online, with run as mostly asynchronous, statewide options (no schools will host). See specific guidance, FAQs on the Speech Contests and/or Middle Level Contests pages.

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

Since a number of students had an opportunity to present on 2019-20 topics, we have opted to require adherence to the new topics, which also allow students to explore pertinent and timely topics.

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

These brief descriptions are not a substitution for full rules. Please download the WHSFA Middle Level Speech Handbook above.

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.
/
Speech
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.
Storytelling
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.
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