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

2021-22 Middle Level Speech Topics

Moments in History

Choose one or both time periods:
  • 1980s (1980-1989)
  • 500 BCE - 1 CE  (AD)
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:
  • A press conference about a public health issue
  • A roast of a celebrity or fictional character
  • A speech to present a posthumous award or honor
  • An anniversary speech to commemorate an event at a school

Extemporaneous Speech

This year’s questions focus on mental health and mindfulness.
  1. What is mindfulness, how does it work, and what are the benefits?
  2. How does improving mental health help promote better physical health?
  3. How can schools discourage stigmas involving mental health and wellness?
  4. What can individuals do to better support others in their mental health?
  5. How can schools encourage students to engage in self-care and mindfulness?
  6. How can individuals become more mindful in their everyday lives?
  7. Why is self-care so important to teachers and how they serve students?
  8. What are the benefits of quiet spaces, and how can schools implement quiet spaces for students?
  9. What can schools do to support students facing anxiety and depression?
  10. How can professional athletes use their platform to promote mental health for teen and pre-teen athletes?
  11. What are a few innovative approaches used in workplaces and schools to promote better mental health, and how successful have they been?
  12. What positive and negative impacts has the COVID-19 pandemic had on mental health of teens and pre-teens?

Middle Level 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.
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