The contestant will be expected to deliver from memory, without the assistance of notes, an elocution piece 3 to 4 minutes in length.  This may be an original composition, prose, or poetry taken from a print or digital source. While we can’t check that contestants have not memorized a speech from a video or audio source, we ask that you keep the integrity and intention of the competition in mind and use any recording only as a guide to help you “own” a speech, not as a way to mimic someone else’s delivery.

There are three divisions in this round: serious, humorous, and patriotic.

Humorous – A humorous speech includes a speech whose text, in and of itself, is funny and has the potential to make the listener chuckle. 

Serious – A serious speech includes a speech topic that is thought provoking, passionate or grave in content. 

Patriotic – A patriotic speech expresses or inspires love and devotion for one’s country.  For Valley Catholic Middle School’s Annual Speech Tournament, patriotic speeches are limited to American Patriotism.

Choosing a Speech

Find a speech to express yourself!  Think about a story that really moved you/evoked emotion from you.  Did that story make you: happy, laugh, cry, angry, scared?  If you felt strongly when reading/hearing this story/poem/speech – then use it yourself.  Your job is to make your audience feel the same way about the story/poem/reading you give at the tournament. 

When choosing a speech, find one that matches your personality and interests.  If you like telling funny stories, then pick a humorous speech. If you like being outdoors, look for a speech about nature. If you’re interested in science, look for stories of invention or discovery.

Consider the following when looking for a speech:

  • An excerpt from a favorite book/novel (children’s books work well)
  • Do not use song lyrics
  • If you use a poem, avoid childish poems with simplistic rhyme schemes
  • Short stories, such as The Cremation of Sam McGee, Casey at the Bat, etc.
  • Motivational works like those from ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Some Toastmasters (speech club) sites have speech suggestions, but their focus is on writing your own.

You may edit your speech to fit the time limit and your tastes.  If you remove sections from the middle of a passage or make other substantial changes, start your speech by saying “An adaptation of ‘story title’.

Remember, if you don’t find a pre-written speech that works for you, you can write your own: For the Novice: Simple Steps to Writing a Fantastic Speech

 Round One Script for Judge’s Assistant

Below is a copy of the script that the judge’s assistant and judge will be using the day of the tournament.  It might be helpful as you practice your elocution speech.  There is also a copy of the judge’s score sheet.  These materials are provided to all contestants to help you know what to expect at the tournament and to understand the criteria for judging.

These instructions are written for the judge’s assistant and the judge.  The you in this section refers to the judge). Words in italics are the assistant’s script.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Judge’s Assistants

An announcement will be made to begin each round. The door to your room should always be closed while you are in session.  You may open the door once the dismissal announcement is made.  We will make this announcement once all rooms are finished with each round, so that rooms still in progress will not be disturbed. 


Round One—Elocution

Wait for the announcement to begin before starting this round.

Judge’s Assistant:Good Morning, and welcome to Valley Catholic School.  My name is ________________ and I am the student assistant for this round. 

I would like to introduce you to your Judge ______________.  (If there is another student helper –introduce him or her too.)

We hope you will do your best, and learn from this opportunity this morning.  Our best wishes for a happy experience all day.”

We are now ready for the Elocution Speeches.  After each recitation, we will allow time for the judge to finish tabulating the contestant’s score before we proceed to the next student. There is no coaching allowed. Please turn off your cell phones. Please do not applaud during any of the round.”

We also would like to remind you that the time requirement for this round will be enforced, as was stated in the coaches’ packet.

The time limit is: 3-4 minutes

I will be giving hand signals to help you track time. It is up to the contestant to watch my hand signals.

(as you read the next part – demonstrate it as well)

At the 1 minute mark I will hold up my index finger for 10 seconds.

At the 2 minute mark I will hold up two fingers (make the peace sign) for 10 seconds.

At the 3 minute mark I will hold up three fingers for 10 seconds.

At the 3 minute and 30 second mark, I will hold up three fingers on my right hand and three fingers on my left and hold for 10 seconds.

At the four minute mark, I will make a stop sign with my hand until the contestant finishes.

At this point, you should make sure that the door is closed (if it wasn’t already).  Then you should call the first contestant by their numerical code, e.g. 12-08-123. Once the contestant begins, you should begin timing by using the second hand on the classroom clock or by using the stopwatch on the iPad.  Begin timing from the moment they start speaking, even if they say something like “My speech is _____.  Begin timing now.”  You start timing at “My speech…”

Once each contestant finishes, you should say “Thank You” as the judge finishes scoring

If a contestant gets frightened and cannot go on, you may say, “Would you like to sit down for awhile and try again later?”  Then call that contestant again before the round is over.

Paper and iPad Scoring

You will score the individual components of each student’s speech on the paper scoring sheet and write the total at the bottom. Next, record the total on the iPad form provided to you by your assistant. Use the iPad instructions to do this.

Let your assistant confirm your math and that the score on paper matches the score on the iPad. The assistant will submit the score electronically and collect the paper scoring sheet.

Repeat this process for each contestant.

Round 1 Elocution Judge Scoresheet