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Rules for Public Speaking Competitions


1. Teachers shall monitor the speech during its development from topic selection to presentation to ensure that the rules are being followed and that the speeches are the students’ own work.

2. Speakers are expected to be innovative in their choice of topic, drawing upon combinations of research, personal experience and imagination.

3. Speeches must be original with the participant. Where research is used, sources should be identified. Judges may disqualify competitors for plagiarism.

4. Students are free to choose their own topic. However, schools are expected to monitor the content and delivery of the speeches according to the standards of good taste, which are consistent with a Catholic school.

5. Speakers should use language, which is appropriate to the topic, the audience and the formality of the occasion. Avoid off-colour jokes, slang expressions and “bathroom humour”.

6. Statements which might be construed as slanderous, embarrassing, or containing gender, cultural, or racial stereotypes are unsuitable for a public speaking competition.

7. Speakers, from the beginning, should consider their intended audience to be “the public” – a mixed age group, not simply an audience of peers.

8. Students are expected to dress neatly and appropriately to suit the formality of the occasion, and to stand appropriately on the platform.

9. Gestures must be kept to a minimum. It is not necessary for the head and hands to remain completely motionless, but gestures must be natural and spontaneous, as opposed to dramatic. Examples of unacceptable gesturing; wild arm movements (flapping wings), pirouettes, kneeling, turning one’s back to the audience).

10. Students from Grades 4 to 8 are eligible to participate in the appropriate Regional Competition.

11. Notes on cards not exceeding 3” x 5” in size are permitted for reference.

12. No microphones are permitted for Competitors. This is not a musical competition or a dramatic audition.

13. No props are permitted. This restriction includes such things as T-shirts or other articles of clothing which are used as props during the speech.

14. Speeches shall not be less than three minutes and not more than five minutes in length. One point shall be deducted for each ten seconds or part thereof over or under this time limit.

15. Students must not identify themselves in any way, by name, or by school.

16. The decision of the judge shall be final.


Note: The rules are from the Halton Catholic District School Board.

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