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Standards:Individual Events

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Individual speech events offer a unique opportunity for students to hone skills in public speaking and to develop confidence by thoughtfully engaging issues of social importance or interpreting works of cultural value.

Individual events vary from categories in which there is a limited amount of preparation time to events in which a pre-written speech is delivered ('Platform Events') to those in which students deliver works of literary merit ('Interpretative Events').

The events outlined here do not comprise the entirety of all individual events that might be offered in a competition. If associations on any level wish to have individual events of educational value considered for recognition and inclusion in this document, descriptions of those events should be submitted to IDEA in a format identical to that below.

If approved by IDEA's General Assembly, that individual event will be standardized.

Limited Preparation Events

Impromptu Speaking

In Impromptu Speaking, students learn to prepare and deliver an original speech on the spur of the moment. Impromptu Speaking topics range from the meaning of proverbs and abstract words to the significance of events and quotations by famous speakers.

Rules of Impromptu Speaking

  • Impromptu topics vary by round and by section.
  • Each speaker in a given round chooses to speak on one of a set of two topics offered; each speaker is offered a choice between the same two topics.
  • A speaker is not allowed to be in the room in which the event is being judged until they are assigned to speak. The speaker may, however, remain in the room to hear other speakers after they have completed their own presentation.
  • Speakers have a total of 7 minutes for both preparation and speaking. Timing commences with the reading of the topic.
  • Immediately after choosing a topic, the contestant should begin preparing a speech without consultation and without reference to prepared notes.
  • A limited use of notes (composed during preparation time) is allowed during the presentation.
  • No minimum time is mandated.

Judging Impromptu Speaking

  • The best impromptu speech combines clear thinking, good speaking, and an interesting presentation of the subject chosen.
  • An impromptu speech should be an original interpretation by the speaker of the designated topic, and this presentation should be supported by varied and interesting information or ideas.
  • The information should be well chosen, pertinent, and sufficient to support the central thought of the speaker's response to the topic.
  • The material should be organized according to some logical plan, and the entire speech should benefit from a solid and complete structure that respects the time allowed. An impromptu speech should reveal the student's ability to organize their thoughts in a logical manner.
  • The contestant should be held accountable for a strict adherence to the topic chosen, and shifts of focus to other, distinct issues should be penalized.
  • A speaker's delivery should be free from marked defects in the mechanics of speech and should
    • Make good use of poise, emphasis, enunciation, fluency, and bodily expressiveness.
    • Be effective in enlisting and retaining the interest of the audience.
  • Impromptu speaking gives the contestant an opportunity to be creative and imaginative; in judging, the value of these aspects of the activity should be kept in mind.

Extemporaneous Speaking

In Extemporaneous Speaking students must prepare and deliver an original speech on a current events topic with a limited amount of preparation time. Extemporaneous topics are presented in the form of questions, and contestants are expected to take a position on the question as well as to justify their stance.

Rules of Extemporaneous Speaking

Thirty minutes before the round is to begin, the first speaker draws three topics, chooses one, and then returns the other two. Other contestants draw for topics in the same manner, following the sequence of their speaking order, at seven minute intervals.

In preparing their speeches, students are expected to draw on sources of authority on current events for information and quotes.

  • In this process, students may consult published books, magazines, newspapers, and journals or articles.
  • This process is to be constrained by the following qualifications:
    • No material that potentially could be used as a source may be allowed in the preparation room other than published books, magazines, newspapers, journals and articles.
    • Transcripts of previously delivered extemporaneous speeches, handbooks, briefs, and outlines may not be brought into the preparatory room.
    • No electronic retrieval device (computers, microfiche readers, etc.) may be used, but printed material from 'on line' computer services may be used.
    • The maximum time limit for the speech is 7 minutes, with a thirty seconds of grace allowed.
    • Limited notes are permitted as resources during the speech.

Judging Extemporaneous Speaking

The student's extemporaneous speech should represent a coherent position on an issue that reflects the student's own individual work. The position the student takes should be clear, and they should present analysis and support for that position.

The content of the speech should be well developed, explain technical concepts clearly, and be well organized.

An extemporaneous speech should reveal the student's ability to organize their thoughts in a logical manner.

The contestant should be held accountable for strict adherence to the topic chosen and discounted severely for shifting to some other topic on which s/he might prefer to speak.

The information should be well-chosen, pertinent, and sufficient to support the central claim of the speech.

A speaker's delivery should be free from marked defects in the mechanics of speech and should:

  • Make good use of poise, emphasis, enunciation, fluency, and bodily expressiveness.
  • Be effective in enlisting and retaining the interest of the audience.

In judging, a judge should remember that their decision should be the product of reasoning untainted by personal bias, however contentious the topic the speaker is addressing, and however much their own opinions may diverge.

The best extemporaneous speech combines clear thinking, good speaking, and effective support for the claim being argued.

Platform Speaking Events

Informative Speaking

In Informative Speaking students prepare and deliver an original speech designed to fulfill the general aim of providing new information to the audience. The speech should describe, clarify, illustrate or define an object, idea, concept, or process.

Rules of Informative Speaking

  • Multiple sources should be used and cited in the speech.
  • Minimal notes are permitted.
  • Maximum speaking time is 10 minutes. There is no minimum time.
  • A student must not have used their speech in any previous year.

Judging Informative Speaking

The text of the speech should be well developed, explain concepts clearly, and be well organized.

The language of the speech should exemplify the highest standards of usage, style and vocabulary.

Delivery should be judged for mastery of the usual mechanics of speech ' poise, quality and use of voice, gestures, audience contact, sincerity, and directness.

Although notes can be used, reading the speech from either notes or a manuscript is usually less effective than if the presentation is memorized.

Exceeding the time limit beyond a reasonable grace period should draw a penalty.

Persuasive Speaking/Original Oratory

In Persuasive Speaking/Original Oratory students prepare and deliver an original speech designed to inspire, reinforce or change the beliefs, attitudes, values or actions of the audience.

Rules of Persuasive Speaking/Original Oratory

Multiple factual sources should be used and cited in the development of the speech.

Not more than one hundred fifty words of the oration may be a direct quotation from any other speech or text. Every quotation used must be identified.

Extensive paraphrasing from other sources is prohibited.

Minimal notes are permitted.

The maximum speaking time limit is 10 minutes; there is no minimal time.

Judging Persuasive Speaking/Original Oratory

The text of the speech should be well developed, explain concepts clearly, and be well organized.

The language of the speech should exemplify the highest standards of usage, style and vocabulary.

Delivery should be judged for mastery of the usual mechanics of speech ' poise, quality and use of voice, gestures, audience contact, sincerity, and directness.

Although notes can be used, reading the speech from either notes or a manuscript is usually less effective than if the presentation is memorized.

Exceeding the time limit beyond a reasonable grace period should draw a penalty.

Interpretive Events

In Interpretive Events, students perform selections from published, novels, short stories, poems, theatrical or screen plays. Recorded material that is not published is unacceptable.

Prose Interpretation

In Prose Interpretation, students must select, analyze and share a cutting from literature other than verse or plays through the art of oral reading. Prose Interpretation expresses thought through language recorded in sentences and paragraphs.

Prose Interpretation includes fiction (short stories, novels) and non-fiction (articles, essays, journals, biographies). An effective prose interpretation consists of a selection or selections of material with literary merit

Rules of Prose Interpretation

  • The selection may be drawn from more than one source.
  • Only printed prose works may be used.
  • Play cuttings and poetry are prohibited.
  • Performances must be from a manuscript which should be in a folder.
  • Reading directly from a book or magazine is not permitted.
  • Each performance should include an introduction in which the speaker must state at least the title(s) and the author(s) of the works they are presenting.
  • Maximum time is 10 minutes including introduction; there is no minimum time limit.

Judging Prose Interpretation

A judge of Prose Interpretation should take into account how well the student expresses the sentiment of the work(s) they present.

Since the contestant will be holding a manuscript, use of that manuscript should be an integral part of the performance.

Responsive uses of the body (changes in posture and gesture) are permissible so long as these active uses of the body are appropriate to the demands of the selection and seem natural outgrowths from the literature being performed.

Along with appropriate, effective physical presentation, the contestant will also be evaluated in terms of technique (breathing, tone, pitch, etc.) and artistry (presentation of mood, imagery, vocal characterization).

The final test of good interpretation is the ability to use all these factors so successfully and unobtrusively that the audience forgets that they are witnessing a contest and are instead carried into the real or imagined world of the selection.

Exceeding the time limit beyond a reasonable grace period should draw a penalty.

Poetry Interpretation

In Poetry Interpretation students must find, analyze and share a cutting that has meter or rhyme through the art of oral reading. Poetry selections express ideas, experience, or emotion through the creative arrangement of words according to their sound, their rhythm, their meaning. An effective Poetry Interpretation consists of a selection or selections of material with literary merit.

Rules of Poetry Interpretation

  • Selections may be drawn from more than one source. The presentation itself may be of an entire work, a cutting of a longer work, a collection of shorter works, or short cuttings of longer works by one poet or several poets arranged in a program.
  • Only published works of poetry may be used.
  • Performances must be from a manuscript which should be in a folder.
  • Reading directly from a book or magazine is not permitted.
  • Each performance should include an introduction in which the speaker must state at least the title(s) and the author(s) of the works they are presenting.
  • The maximum time is 10 minutes including introduction.

Judging Poetry Interpretation

A judge of Poetry Interpretation should take into account how well the student expresses the sentiment of the work(s) they present.

Since the contestant will be holding a manuscript, use of that manuscript should be an integral part of the performance.

Responsive use of the body (changes in posture and gesture) is permissible so long as this active use of the body is appropriate to the demands of the selection and a natural outgrowth from the literature being performed.

Along with appropriate, effective physical presentation, the contestant should also be evaluated in terms of technique (breathing, tone, pitch, etc.) and artistry (presentation of mood, imagery, vocal characterization).

The final test of good interpretation is the ability to use all these factors so successfully and unobtrusively that the audience forgets that this is a contest and is carried into the real or imagined world of the selection.

Dramatic Interpretation

In Dramatic Interpretation a student must select, analyze, and share a cutting from a play that may have one or more character through the art of oral reading. A Dramatic Interpretation consists of a selection or selections of material with literary merit that may be drawn from more than one source

Rules of Dramatic Interpretation

  • The selection may be drawn from more than one source.
  • Only printed works may be used.
  • Performances must be from a manuscript which should be in a folder.
  • Reading directly from a book or magazine is not permitted.
  • Each performance should include an introduction in which the speaker must state at least the title(s) and the author(s) of the works they are presenting.
  • Maximum time is 10 minutes including introduction.

Judging Dramatic Interpretation

A judge of Dramatic Interpretation should take into account how well the student expresses the sentiment of the work(s) they present.

Since the contestant will be holding a manuscript, use of that manuscript should be an integral part of the performance.

Responsive use of the body (changes in posture/gesture) is permissible so long as this active use of the body is appropriate to the demands of the selection and a natural outgrowth from the literature being performed.

Along with appropriate, effective physical presentation, the contestant will also be evaluated in terms of technique (breathing, tone, pitch, etc.) and artistry (presentation of mood, imagery, vocal characterization).

The final test of good interpretation is the ability to use all these factors so successfully and unobtrusively that the audience forgets that this is a contest and in a created atmosphere is carried into the real or imagined world of the selection.

Duo Dramatic Interpretation

In Duo Dramatic Interpretation, two students must find, analyze and share a cutting from a play through the art of oral reading. A Duo Dramatic Interpretation can be either humorous or serious. The cutting should represent the portrayal of one or more characters presented by the two individuals.

Rules of Duo Interpretation

  • The selection may be drawn from more than one source.
  • Only printed works may be used.
  • Prose and poetry are prohibited.
  • Performances must be from a manuscript which should be in a folder.
  • Reading directly from a book or magazine is not permitted.
  • Speakers must not face each other during their speech; rather, their focus should be off-stage.
  • Each performance should include an introduction in which the speaker must state at least the title(s) and the author(s) of the works they are presenting.
  • Maximum time is 10 minutes including introduction.

Judging Duo Interpretation

A judge of Duo Dramatic Interpretation should take into account how well the student expresses the sentiment of the work(s) they present.

In Duo Dramatic Interpretation, each speaker should clearly portray at least one well-defined character.

To this end, responsive use of the body (changes in posture/gesture) is permissible so long as this active use of the body is appropriate to the demands of the selection and a natural outgrowth from the literature being performed.

Along with appropriate, effective physical presentation, the contestant will also be evaluated in terms of technique (breathing, tone, pitch, etc.) and artistry (presentation of mood, imagery, vocal characterization).

The final test of good interpretation is the ability to use all these factors so successfully and unobtrusively that the audience forgets that this is a contest and in a created atmosphere is carried into the real or imagined world of the selection.

Programmed Oral Interpretation

In Programmed Oral Interpretation students must find, analyze and share a program of thematically linked selections through the art of oral reading. The selections should be of literary merit, and must be chosen from at least two of the three recognized genres (prose/poetry/drama). 'Different genres' here means that the material must appear in separate pieces of literature, and that, for example, a poem included in a short story that appears only in that short story does not constitute a poetry genre.

Rules of Programmed Oral Interpretation

  • The selection must be drawn from more than one genre.
  • Only printed works may be used.
  • Performances must be from a manuscript which should be in a folder.
  • Reading directly from a book or magazine is not permitted.
  • Each performance should include an introduction in which the speaker must state at least the title(s) and the author(s) of the works they are presenting.
  • Maximum time is 10 minutes including introduction.

Judging Programmed Oral Interpretation

A judge of Programmed Oral Interpretation should take into account how well the student expresses the sentiment of the work(s) they present.

In Programmed Oral Interpretation, a student draws on mixed media to make a thought-provoking and powerful artistic statement.

Responsive use of the body (changes in posture/gesture) is permissible so long as this active use of the body is appropriate to the demands of the selection and a natural outgrowth from the literature being performed.

Along with appropriate, effective physical presentation, the contestant will also be evaluated in terms of technique (breathing, tone, pitch, etc.) and artistry (presentation of mood, imagery, vocal characterization).

The final test of good interpretation is the ability to use all these factors so successfully and unobtrusively that the audience forgets that this is a contest and in a created atmosphere is carried into the real or imagined world of the selection.

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