Oratorical Contest Other Rules
TV and Radio
Live television and radio broadcasts are permitted in all contests as well as filming, taping or other types of media for later showing, provided:
1) the lighting and other site conditions are the same for all contestants;
2) the filming or broadcasts shall in no way distract the contestants or interfere with the preannounced scheduled time of the contest;
3) the normal speaking voice of the contestant is not interfered with or amplified within the auditorium; and
4) The American Legion is in no way financially obligated without its prior approval.
A drawing shall be held by the official in charge of the contest to determine the order in which the contestants will appear. The Contest Chairman shall announce the title of the contestant's prepared oration immediately after introducing him/her as Contestant No. 1, Contestant No. 2, etc. The chairman will request the audience to refrain from applause until the Judges have made their decision.
A raised platform is not compulsory; however, it is strongly recommended. The use of notes, amplification, lectern or speaker's stand by contestants or prompting in any manner is NOT permitted. Props are NOT permitted.
The time allotted for each contestant to deliver their Prepared Oration shall not be less than eight (8) or more than ten (10) minutes and for the Assigned Topic, not less than three (3) or more than five (5) minutes.
An official timer shall be named by the Contest Chairman whose duty it shall be to keep an accurate time record of each contestant, and he shall be located on the main floor in full view of the contestants. The timekeeper shall begin timing each contestant at the start of the Prepared Oration. The timer should be equipped with a stopwatch and time cards for the Prepared Oration carrying the figures 8, 9 and 10. When eight minutes have been used, the time warning card with the figure 8 thereon shall be placed in full view of the speaker, following with 9 and 10 as the speaker progresses. The same procedure shall be used with cards bearing 3, 4 and 5 during the Assigned Topic Discourse. The Contest Chairman shall announce the time consumed by each contestant for the Prepared Oration and the Assigned Topic immediately after each contestant speaks for the benefit of the Judges.
Contestants are required to remain in a private room where the discourse of the other speakers cannot be heard until it is their turn to speak (contestants will be under the supervision of an individual appointed by the Contest Chairman). As the contestants conclude their Prepared Orations, they must return to a soundproof waiting room. As each speaker concludes his or her Assigned Topic Discourse, they shall not be allowed to associate with contestants who have not fulfilled the Assigned Topic requirement.
Approximately five minutes prior to the time of the delivery of the Assigned Topic Discourse, Contestant Number 1 will be informed of the topic drawn for the Assigned Topic and shall be permitted to retire to privacy under the direction of an individual appointed by the Contest Chairman, whose duty it shall be to see that no contestant is permitted to consult any text matter or notes having any connection with the subject matter upon which he/she is to speak, other than the actual words of the topic provided on the card drawn.
Each succeeding contestant will be called upon in the order in which he/she previously appeared. He/She shall also, in turn, be informed of the topic of the Assigned Topic Discourse and shall then be escorted to privacy in the manner as provided for Contestant No. 1.
The judges are a very integral part of the Oratorical Contest. Their qualifications are considered carefully as the decision of the judges is final and must be reached without bias. Impartial judging in all contests is the key to fairness and success of the program which results in the selection of a National Champion.
All Department Finals and the National Contest must utilize five judges. No publicity shall be given to the names of the judges in advance of the contest. During the contest, the judges will be seated in different locations in the auditorium and each judge shall render his or her final decision without consultation with other judges or any other person.
Judges will be advised that a lack of emphasis in the Prepared Oration and the Assigned Topic Discourse on the attendant duties and obligations of a citizen must result in their downgrading the contestant involved. Judges are permitted to downgrade a contestant up to a maximum of ten (10) points for failure to speak on the Constitution. The Contest Chairman will announce any violation of time for each contestant. A penalty of one point for each minute, or fraction thereof, shall be assessed against the contestant's total score.
The judges, timekeepers, tabulators and the Contest Chairman, following the last Assigned Topic Discourse, may proceed to a private room for final review and tabulation.
The Contest Chairman will appoint no less than three tabulators for the Department Finals contest. It will be their responsibility to review the judges' scorecards to be certain they are fully tabulated and signed before they are submitted for final tabulation.
Judges' scorecards for Department Finals and the National Contest will not be divulged to anyone at the site of the contest. All National Contest judges' scorecards become the property of The American Legion National Headquarters.
For More Information
Individuals interested in learning more about the National High School Oratorical Contest should contact the following office of The American Legion: Department of Minnesota, 20 W. 12th St., Room 300A, St. Paul. MN 55155-2000 (651) 291-1800, Toll Free (866) 259-9163 or e-mail us.
For dates, sites and deadline information concerning local, district and state level competition, individuals should contact the local American Legion Post or their respective State Headquarters Office.
All contestants and chaperones will arrive the Friday of the contest weekend. All contestants and chaperones will stay at the official contest hotel.
A mandatory pre-contest orientation session for all contestants will take place the Friday evening of the contest weekend. A banquet honoring all contestants will be Sunday afternoon, following the national championship contest. All contestants and chaperones will depart for home later that afternoon.
For information concerning the National Contest, contact the National Headquarters of The American Legion.
National High School Oratorical Contest web page.