Competition categories and rules

Public Speaking Contest is broken into 4 categories, Prepared, Extemporaneous, Technology Assisted, and Interpretation. These categories each have three levels according to age with Junior, Intermediate, and Senior. You do not need to have previous experience in a category in order to participate.

If you would like to look further into the rules and specifics of each category, click on the Competition Categories tab below. Registration information can also be found below, under the registration tab.

Junior (ages 8-10), Intermediate (ages 11-13) and Senior (ages 14-19) contestants compete in one of the following categories:

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    Prepared speaking

    This is the noble, “traditional” category from past Missouri State 4-H Public Speaking Contests. Speeches may be on any topic of the participant’s choice that are in good taste for a group of peers and adults.

    Prepared speaking category contest rules

    • Speeches are to be 3-5 minutes in length for Juniors (ages 8-10), 4-6 minutes in length for Intermediates (ages 11-13) and 5-7 minutes in length for Seniors (ages 14-18). Points will be deducted for speeches not meeting these parameters. When speakers have met the minimum time, a judge will hold up a green card. When 30 seconds remain until time is expired, the judge will hold up a red card. The speaker should then wrap up to avoid a point deduction (3 points).
    • Judges decisions are final.
    • Notes on index cards are perfectly acceptable. However, no props or visual aids may be used.
    • The speech must have be an original work, written by the person giving the speech. Topics must be appropriate to the standards of a 4-H event and appropriate for all ages.
    • First place Intermediate and Senior Division finishers from a previous State 4-H Public Speaking Contest may not enter the same category and age group a second time.
    • Have fun: First and foremost, you are here to gain experience, celebrate your skills, and meet others with an interest in public speaking!

    LG242, Public Speaking: Prepared Score Card (PDF)

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    Extemporaneous speaking

    When you give an extemporaneous speech at a public speaking contest, it will differ from a traditional (“prepared”) public speech in that you will not plan the speech until shortly before you deliver it.

    Extemporaneous speaking category contest rules

    • Process: Extemporaneous speakers will wait together in a common room until their name is called. At that point the speaker will pick three topics and select one that they will speak on. Speeches will be given before the judges and the audience in a separate room. Each speaker will have 15 minutes to prepare their speech after the selection is made. Topics will be subjects that youth are familiar with, so no special research materials are required.
    • Timing: Speeches are to be 3-5 minutes in length for Juniors (ages 8-10), 4-6 minutes in length for Intermediates (ages 11-13) and 5-7 minutes in length for Seniors (ages 14-18). When speakers have met the minimum time, a judge will hold up a green card. When 30 seconds remain until time is expired, the judge will hold up a red card. The speaker should then wrap up to avoid a point deduction (3 points).
    • Notes on index cards are perfectly acceptable. Speakers should bring their own note cards and pencils.
    • Topics must be appropriate to the standards of a 4-H event and appropriate for all ages.
    • Restrictions: No props or visual aids may be used. Parents are not allowed to assist the speakers or to be in the same room as they prepare their speech.
    • First place Intermediate and Senior Division finishers from a previous State 4-H Public Speaking Contest may not enter the same category and age group a second time.
    • Above All: Have fun! You are here to gain experience, celebrate your skills, and meet others with an interest in public speaking!

    Extemporaneous Speaking (Y2440)

    Public Speaking: Extemporaneous Score Card (LG240)

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    Technology assisted speaking

    Technology assisted speeches are subject to the same rules and guidelines as prepared speeches but allow for the use of presentation software (such as PowerPoint). This is another 4-H experience with excellent workforce preparation benefits.

    Tech-assisted speaking category contest rules

    • Speeches are to be 3-5 minutes in length for Juniors (ages 8-10), 4-6 minutes in length for Intermediates (ages 11-13) and 5-7 minutes in length for Seniors (ages 14-18). When speakers have met the minimum time, a judge will hold up a green card. When 30 seconds remain until time is expired, the judge will hold up a red card. The speaker should then wrap up to avoid a point deduction (3 points).
    • The tech-assisted speech must be an original work, created and written by the person giving the speech. Topics must be appropriate to the standards of a 4-H event and appropriate for all ages.
    • Notes on index cards are perfectly acceptable. However, no props may be used.
    • Speakers are free to use their own laptop computers, or they may use the PC laptop at the event. In either event, a copy of the presentation must be brought to the contest by the speaker, in order to have a backup if technical difficulties should occur.
    • First place Intermediate and Senior Division finishers from a previous State 4-H Public Speaking Contest may not enter the same category and age group a second time.
    • Judges decisions are final.
    • Have fun! First and foremost, you are here to gain experience, celebrate your skills, and meet others with an interest in public speaking!

    Communicating With PowerPoint (Y2430)

    Public Speaking: Tech-Assisted Score Card (LG243)

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    Interpretation

    Interpretations are memorized performances that take place without music or other external sound effects. You can choose from three of the following sub-categories:

    • Dramatic
      An oral interpretation of a serious selection of narrative or dramatic work. The source material may come from literature, a monologue, a theatrical production or poetry. This can be a great fit for youth in 4-H Theater Arts clubs!
    • Humorous
      A memorized oral interpretation of a humorous selection (or a humorous interpretation of an oral selection. Source material may come from plays, prose, literature, poetry, or other performance pieces.

    Interpretation category contest rules

    • Interpretations are to be memorized and take place without music or other external audio or visual effects. Visual aids, such as posters, are not permitted, but special makeup and clothing may be worn as the contestant deems appropriate to the content of the interpretation.
    • The topic and content of the interpretation must be appropriate to the standards of a 4-H event, and appropriate for all ages.*
      *PLEASE NOTE: There are painful moments of history that are important to remember (lest the past be repeated) and would normally provide excellent material for a dramatic interpretation. However, with an audience that includes very small children (who don’t yet have a context for this information), depictions of things like beatings, torture, child deaths and genocide are not appropriate for the State 4-H Public Speaking Contest.
    • Time limits: Due to contest time constraints, all interpretations are limited to 5 minutes each (with a minimum time of 3 minutes), for Juniors, Intermediates and Seniors. When speakers have met the minimum time, a judge will hold up a green card. When 30 seconds remain until time is expired, the judge will hold up a red card. The speaker should then wrap up to avoid a point deduction (3 points).
    • Contestants are to bring two copies of the script, referencing the source(s). Non-English language must be translated. If speaking in a language other than English, the participant must inform the state 4-H office no later than September 1 of the program year, so that a judge with the appropriate language skills may be secured.
    • First place Intermediate and Senior Division finishers from a previous State 4-H Public Speaking Contest may not enter the same category and age group a second time.
    • Judges decisions are final.

    Communicating Through Pantomime (Y2450)

    Public Speaking: Interpretation Score Card (LG241)

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    Business pitch

    A business pitch quickly generates interest and energetically demonstrates knowledge and persuasion to motivate the listener to reach a decision or act immediately on the information presented.

    Examples may include:

    1. a “Shark Tank” TV show-style pitch by an entrepreneur about a 4-H-made product or service, or
    2. a sales presentation made to prospective buyers of a 4-H-raised animal or livestock project

    Business pitch speeches follow the same rules and guidelines as prepared and technology assisted speeches. They allow for the use of presentation software (such as PowerPoint) by the speaker.

    Business pitch speaking category contest rules

    • Speeches are to be 3-5 minutes in length for Juniors (ages 8-10), Intermediates (ages 11-13) and Seniors (ages 14-18). When speakers have met the minimum time, a judge will hold up a green card. When 30 seconds remain until time is expired, the judge will hold up a red card. The speaker should then wrap up to avoid a point deduction (3 points).
    • The business pitch speech must be an original work, created and written by the person giving the speech. Topics must be appropriate for the standards of a 4-H event and appropriate for all ages.
    • Notes on index cards are perfectly acceptable. The only other prop that may be used (besides a slide presentation) is a sample 4-H project—a product, or prototype of a product, that is the subject of the speech—this is optional).
    • Speakers are free to use their own laptop computers, or they may use the PC laptop at the event. In either event, a copy of the presentation must be brought to the contest by the speaker, in order to have a backup if technical difficulties should occur.
    • First place Intermediate and Senior Division finishers from a previous State 4-H Public Speaking Contest may not enter the same category and age group a second time.
    • Judges decisions are final.
    • Have fun! First and foremost, you are here to gain experience, celebrate your skills, and meet others with an interest in public speaking!

    4-H Business Pitch Guidelines

    Public Speaking: Business Pitch Scorecard (LG244)