Oratory Contest: Instructions for Judges


Thank you for agreeing to judge the contest. The contest would not be possible without adults willing to help.

Three judges will judge each round. A round generally consists of 4-7 contestants. Each judge will be provided with the contestant speaking order and a set of ballots.

Traditionally, the first judge in the room is considered the judges’ spokesperson. A judge who has judged the contest before may also act as the spokesperson. But any of the three judges may act as spokesperson. In some cases the timekeeper may be willing to act as the spokesperson. The spokesperson makes sure all of the judges are in the room and ready to begin. They also signal when the judges are ready for the next speaker to begin.

The judge may wish to write comments on the ballot as the contestant is speaking or wait until the speech is finished to complete the ballot. Each judge has one ballot for each contestant. The purpose of the ballot is to maximize the educational experience for the contestant.

Judging and the ballot

Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the ballot and the rules before the contest.

1. There are four areas of judging criteria; Introduction, Content, Presentation and Conclusion.

Introduction: Does the introduction make you want to hear more? Does it have a clear thesis? How well is the beginning laid out

Content: Is each point relevant to the topic and substantiated with current documentation? Are the facts and figures used current? Good word usage? Does it have a logical, clear organization? Does it send a pro-life message?

Presentation: Appropriate eye contact, audibility, rate of delivery, voice inflection, fluency, tone, gestures, pronunciation, general sense of confidence, etc.

Conclusion: Does the conclusion sum up the main points of the speech?

* These are the areas of criteria, but you are not limited to commenting on these areas. The questions suggested above are designed to help you, feel free to expand on them. There is also a list of descriptive words that may help while writing comments for the contestants.

2. Each area has a 1-10 score (10 being the best) with a perfect score of 40. A total score of 40-35 is considered a very good speech, 35-30 is considered a good speech. 30-25 an average speech, and a total score of under 25 is considered a poor speech.

3. Write any pertinent comments on the ballot. Comments should be largely encouraging and positive, but not overly so. A student who receives a middle or low score has the right to know why. It is ok to be honest; you can help the contestant to become a better speaker. Comments can relate to the areas of scoring or the right-to-life issue. Judges’ comments need not be lengthy or detailed.

At the end of each speech, the timekeeper will provide you with the time of the speech. The students are given 5-7 minute time limit, although they are not disqualified unless the speech is under 4 minutes or over 8 minutes.

It is the judges’ discretion whether any time issue should be reflected in the score. You may ask yourself; was the additional time a critical part of the speech or could the contestant have cut something out of the speech? How much was the speech over or under, one minute or ten seconds? Was it due to delivery speed or too much or too little content?

** It is not your responsibility to disqualify the contestant. If it does happen, complete the ballot and continue the contest. The timekeeper or judge should inform the contest director after the round is complete. The contest director will handle any issues regarding disqualification.

The spokesperson or timer should allow the judges time after a speech to complete their ballot and written comments before calling the next contestant.

When the round is finished and the ballots are complete, the timer should place them in the folder provided and give them to the contest director.

If you have any questions before, during or after the contest, contact the contest director.