ML Speech Contest Host/Manager Resources

Quick Access #

WISDAA orders SpeechWire for our official WISDAA festivals, to push registration data for scheduling and tabulation.

Training Course

This free course walks festival managers through planning and preparing festivals, as well as using SpeechWire.

Request Contest #

Middle Level hosts/managers must first request to host festivals by clicking the button to the right and completing the request form. Once approved, you may return to the form at right to access SpeechWire login information (which also will be emailed directly to you).

Inclusive Contests: Best Practices #


The National Speech & Debate Association has a number of free resources for contests, including an Inclusive Tournament Checklist, Gender Neutral Restroom Best Practices, Pronoun Usage Best Practices, and Belonging and Inclusion Station implementation guide.

Another consideration, helpful for students, coaches, or adjudicators who are neurodivergent or need a quiet place to pray, is a quiet room.

Planning Checklist #


(Optional) Managers interested in making WIFI must accessible by adjudicators must first confirm (with their technology/IT personnel) that their school has a public/guest WIFI network, or can make one available during the festival. This allows adjudicators to complete evaluations electronically (“eballots”), but does not require them to do so (paper evaluations should be made available).

Communication #

About one month prior to your festival, provide schools with the following material:

  1. Projected itinerary, including when to arrive, draw, rounds, etc. (60-75 min. per round).
  2. Expected fees, if any, due from each school to cover expenses (most festival expenses are reimbursable by the state office)
  3. Deadline for coaches to submit registration on SpeechWire through State Office (should be at least two weeks prior to your festival).
  4. Any other pertinent information regarding your event, i.e., lunch, where to park, etc.
  5. Remind coaches to specify names of adjudicators when registering contestants on SpeechWire. One adjudicator for every five entries – or fraction thereof – is the norm (i.e., two adjudicators would be required for 7 entries, since 7 is a fraction of 10). If a school cannot provide all its adjudicators, you will have to hire them and assess the school for costs incurred.
  6. Let coaches know your intentions to arrange a public/guest WIFI network for adjudicators for completing e-ballots (see above).

Festival-Hired Adjudicators #

If you must hire adjudicators (to supplement what schools supply), contact them well in advance of your date. University and college personnel are sometimes willing to serve in this capacity. Teachers outside your area may be well qualified. You may utilize WISDAA’s Jobs Board. WISDAA offers an optional middle level speech adjudicator online training course and certification. Send adjudicators information ahead of time, such as when you want them to report, how long they should expect to work, etc.; as well as a copy/link to the WISDAA Speech Handbook.

Building/Facilities #

Rooms #

In addition to classroom space for performances, arrange:

  • Hospitality/meeting room for adjudicators, coaches and bus drivers – possibly a faculty lounge or family/consumer education classroom;
  • Student assembly area – possibly a commons, gym or cafeteria – where students can meet at the beginning, leave coats, etc., and meet again at the end for picking up results.
  • Draw/preparation room(s) for Extemporaneous Speakers.
  • Quiet room for individuals who may need to decompress; also handy as a private place for prayer/mediation.
  • All-gender restroom – sometimes, this involves temporarily designating a staff restroom during the event. Click here to learn more.
  • Headquarters/tabulation room ­– where results will be recorded. Coaches and adjudicators should not see round-by-round tabulation. If you are allowed to use the school office or guidance office, or conference room, it helps facilitate these needs.  It also allows you to receive emergency messages.
  • Contest rooms – be mindful of how suitable rooms are for categories. i.e., Demonstration should have a table, Play Acting should have adequate space for movement, a desk or table and movable chairs.
  • Communicate to teachers: let them know their rooms will be used for the festival.  This provides them the opportunity of putting away personal items as well as valuable equipment.

Facilities Arrangements #

  • Signage to direct everyone to appropriate rooms as arranged above.
  • Helpers: You will need guides and personnel to help you administer this festival.  Hopefully, other teachers will be willing to assist you. In addition, a service organization, such as Student Council or National Honor Society, may be able to provide assistance.
  • PA System: make announcements before the contest starts to make sure everyone is in the right place (do not make announcements during rounds, except for emergencies).
  • Concessions, either run these (parents can be helpful), or through a booster organization as well as hospitality snacks and beverages for adjudicators, bus drivers, and tabulation room staff. Please consider clearly indicating allergens, and gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and other options.

Accessibility #

When accessing registration data in SpeechWire, you may find accessibility requests for contestants and/or adjudicators. Some are related to accommodations/modifications in evaluation during rounds; others are related to mobility access, dietary restrictions for food, and other needs while participating. Please be proactive in reviewing these and making necessary arrangements, such as elevator access, having a wheelchair available, making sure ADA-accessible versus inaccessible areas are clearly marked and communicated to participants.

SpeechWire Setup #

WISDAA provides SpeechWire for all subdistrict and district festivals at no cost to the local host/manager. In the Quick Access section at the top of this page, you will find buttons with SpeechWire setup instructions and link to the SpeechWire manager login page.

Extemporaneous Questions Setup #

Extemporaneous questions are on p. 2 of the WISDAA Middle Level Speech Handbook; contest managers photocopy identical sets of materials for each section (room). In addition to ensuring enough copies for contestants, the host/manager should ensure each adjudicator has a copy of materials, so while evaluating, they have a frame of reference for what contestants received.

  1. You will need an envelope for each Extemporaneous contestant.
  2. Photocopy/print a set of questions (see p. 2, Middle Level Speech Handbook) for each contestant at the festival as well as each adjudicator who will evaluate contestants. Cut apart and place a set in each contestant’s envelope, and label each with their name/code.
  3. Procure 4″x6″ note/index cards for contestants to use.
  4. Envelopes and cards should be organized and given to the draw/prep room supervisor, along with a schematic showing contestant speaker order, contest room assignments, and draw/speak time.
  5. From copies you made, each round, adjudicators in each section containing an Extemporaneous contestant also should be given a full copy of questions with their evaluation materials, to ensure students are using official questions.

Accessing Registration Data #

Before the state office “pushes” entries/adjudicator data from initial statewide registration to festivals, managers can review registration status and entries by festival by clicking buttons for the two status screens below (the state office will email contest managers the password to access the screen). This page is sorted by the Level 1 festival each school has selected, with schools listed at the bottom who have not selected a festival (“Not Set”). Those schools must select a subdistrict, or their entries will not come to you.

Printing Forms #

WISDAA sends evaluation sheets to middle level 1 and 2 festivals. Toggle-open the information to see a key to colors. If you need to run more copies, you do not need to match; this is just for reference to help sort different categories (and unfortunately, there are not enough unique colors from our printing supplier to differentiate all categories, anyway).

Contest hosts/managers will print paper ballots (sheet with entry information for each round/section/room) directly from SpeechWire.

speech forms inventory

Photocopying Forms – Colors (updated 2024)

Middle High Category Paper Color
Expository Speech Gray
Extemporaneous Speech Terra Green
Farrago Goldenrod
Group Interpretive Reading Salmon
Impromptu Lunar Blue
Informative/Demonstration Pulsar Pink
Moments in History Gamma Green
News Reporting Green
Non-original Oratory Goldenrod
Oratory Galaxy Gold
Persuasive Speech Galaxy Gold
Play Acting Canary
Poetry Reading Orchid
Pro-Con Speeches Cosmic Orange
Prose Reading Blue
Public Address Speech Cosmic Orange
Radio News Reporting Green
Solo Acting Ivory
Solo Acting (Humorous/Serious) Ivory
Special Occasion Terrestrial Teal
Storytelling Pink
Adjudicator Guidelines Solar Yellow
Ballot (SpeechWire generates) White

Collating Materials/Packets #

  1. Preparation of School Packets
    1. Each school should receive at registration the following materials:
      1. A listing of students participating with assigned codes;
      2. A listing of where each student will present for each round;
      3. A map of where rooms are located.
    2. Make another set of folders, or envelopes, or whatever at the same time with the school name and code on the outside.  You will use these in the tabulation room for collecting the evaluation sheets to be returned to the school’s coach at the end of the festival.
  2. Preparation of Adjudicator Packets: each adjudicator should receive at the beginning of the festival:
    1. “Guidelines for Speech Adjudicators” sheet
    2. Enough rules/evaluation sheet(s) for category(ies) evaluating
    3. Master ballot w/each section’s entries (returned w/evaluation sheets at end of each round)
    4. A map showing location of rooms
    5. WIFI access/instructions, if you were able to secure a public/guest network for e-balloting
    6. Any other information you feel is pertinent for them to have.

Extemp Draw/Prep #

A student may not speak on the same question more than once during a particular season. Contestants can be given a 4″×6″ card to be used for notes if they are using a note card during the speech.

  1. Beginning 30 minutes before the round, call the first student in each section/room to draw five questions from their envelope and return four, and note on the schematic/roster the time and which question number each student draws.
  2. In at least 7-minute intervals, repeat the process with subsequent students, in speaking order, ensuring they draw from their envelope. The prep room supervisor initials the chosen topic paper slip, which the contestant gives to the adjudicator. 
  3. Contestants must write their own speeches during preparation time, without consulting/using prepared speeches, outlines, notes, or parts of speeches – such as introductions, conclusions, or other prepared materials.

Managers of WISDAA Speech contests have the ability to optionally enable electronic evaluation (e-ballots) in SpeechWire. Adjudicators who wish can evaluate electronically; others can still complete paper forms.

Adjudicator Electronic Evaluation #

Managers of WISDAA Speech contests have the ability to optionally enable electronic evaluation (e-ballots) in SpeechWire. Adjudicators who wish can evaluate electronically; others can still complete paper forms.

  1. Managers should check with school IT personnel for any special instructions for connecting, and communicate to coaches and their adjudicators ahead of the festival.
  2. Please tell coaches that adjudicators who are interested should bring a laptop/tablet.
  3. Once you start your festival, adjudicators who want to will log into with the email listed on the Judge dashboard in your SpeechWire manager, access their rounds, type their evaluations and award points. You won’t even have to tabulate their results; they will come in automatically.

Cancellation Protocols #

Please give schools and any adjudicators you’ve arranged plenty of notice when cancelling (we suggest at least 4 hours prior to the start of registration). Work with administration in your school to make a determination, so you can notify schools of cancellation in a timely manner. If you do cancel, please also alert the state office, and we’ll work with you on rescheduling or how schools can move their entries to the statewide virtual subdistrict festival (administered by the State Office), instead. 

Festival “Day Of” Operations #

  1. Registration: The person at registration should have a master copy of all participants – listing students from each school by code. As each school arrives, ask for any cancellations and note on the Master List to be announced by code at the Adjudicator’s Meeting.
  2. General Meeting Agenda: This is your opportunity to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable.
    1. Announce any corrections, additions, off-bound areas, where lunch is, etc.
    2. Remind students not to enter or leave a room while a participant is speaking
    3. Explain where rooms are located
    4. Ask for questions.
  3. Coaches and Adjudicators Meeting Agenda
    1. Hand out adjudicators’ folders
    2. Announce cancellations received at registration
    3. Ask them to read very carefully the “Guidelines For Speech Adjudicators”
    4. Ask them to review rules for each category they are judging and answer any questions they may have; highlight any recent rules changes;
    5. Instruct adjudicators to review their main ballot form for any accessibility requests;
    6. Discuss the evaluation sheets, reminding them to both circle numbers and write comments;
    7. Remind everyone of the qualification scores required to advance to the next level;
    8. Stress the need for common sense, politeness, fairness, constructive criticism, and goodwill;
    9. Remind the process for raising rules violations questions (adjudicators may not disqualify unilaterally; such decisions must be made by committee by festival officials);
    10. Remind them to not give students evaluation sheets or tell them ratings; rather, to return that information to festival headquarters after each round.
    11. Remind that detailed oral feedback can delay the entire event; brief, generalized comments that do not single-out any individual students are preferred.
  4. Festival Headquarters
    1. Keep this location off limits to students, coaches and other adjudicators. This is essential for maintaining the integrity of the contest. If a student knows that his/her average score in early rounds is lower, there is little incentive to participate in Round 3.
    2. As the ballots and evaluation sheets arrive from each adjudicator, mark them off your Master List. This will give you a running account of who has not turned in their ballots for any particular round and a means of finding that person to collect the necessary information.
    3. Check the ballot grades to verify that they coincide with what is recorded on the evaluation sheet.
    4. Next, record the grade given on your Master Schedule Sheet. This is the sheet you should be ready to duplicate at the end of the festival to put in each school packet.
    5. Finally, put the evaluation sheets in each school packet. Doing this on a round-by-round basis is the best way of keeping the festival under control – time wise as well as sanity wise.
    6. You must establish a Referee Committee, chosen from coaches in attendance. (see rules, §9.1.). If there are questions or challenges, you will have a mediating group to help solve the situation.
  5. Conclusion/end-of-day
    1. Check all rooms you used to ensure no damage was done and to return them to good order.
    2. Express special thanks to everyone who helped you in any way.
    3. Be sure results are reported to the State Office.
    4. Relax!

Need Help? #

Please follow this sequence for assistance:

Prior to your festival, email and include “Festival Management Question” in the subject

During your festival, with SpeechWire or general questions, first call 920-355-1895 and leave a message if no answer

After 10 minutes, then call SpeechWire at 773-242-WIRE (773-242-9473); leave a message if no answer

We make a point to be “on call” during festivals, but since several festivals happen at the same time (especially Monday evenings), we appreciate your patience as we may be helping someone else at a particular moment. 

Manual Scheduling #

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Updated on 05/18/2024
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