Host a Speech Contest for Girls
Public speaking skills are important for anyone’s career. Speaking well gives a natural edge, whether it’s acing a job interview or presenting ideas to co-workers. You can encourage high school girls to develop these valuable skills by hosting a Speech Trek public-speaking contest. Here’s how.
1. Decide on the scope.
While a state-sponsored Speech Trek involves another level of coordination, it also makes for a more exciting endeavor for prospective participants — to compete in a statewide competition. Reach out to your state vice president of programs to arrange for a conference call with branch leaders and see if others are interested in collaborating. How do you decide who advances to the state competition? Each branch will send videos of their top three competitors to a state Speech Trek panel. The panel will choose three girls from among all the branch competitions to move on to the state contest.
Don’t be afraid to be the guinea pig. You have to start somewhere, and once other branches see how successful and easy your event was, they’ll quickly join company.
2. Pick the topic.
- Career choices
- Pay equity
- Portrayal of women in the media
- Sexual harassment
- Stereotypes and biases
- Strategies to introduce change
- Student debt
- Violence against women
- Women’s health
- Work and family challenges
3. Decide when you will hold your competition and where to publicize.
- Learn about the contest
- Prepare their speeches
- Memorize and practice their speeches
Make a list of local high schools and reach out to English and civics teachers, as well as the teacher liaison for the debate team, honor society, and other extracurricular groups so that faculty help promote this opportunity. Be willing to meet with groups of students after school to answer any questions they might have.
4. Assemble your volunteers.
And if you are making this a statewide competition, you will need someone to film your speakers individually. You will need to forward the videos for your top three contestants to your state Speech Trek panel. They will pick three girls among all the winners to compete at the state competition.
5. Decide where to hold your event.
If you are organizing the state finals, then your competition should be held at your state convention, so make sure you arrange for a space and a time for the final round of this exciting event. Encourage all of your convention attendees to come watch the finalists so you make them feel like it’s a big deal that they’re competing at this event — because it is!
6. Assemble your judges.
- College speech and communications professors
- Local Toastmasters
- Local elected officials, including school board or city council members
- Leaders of local organizations that are interested in your topic
Use the panelist opportunity to include local corporations in your event. They might even want to sponsor the cash prizes if one of their executives is a judge.
7. Raise money for cash prizes and publicity costs.
We suggest the following amounts for your prizes at branch events:
And for the state finals
If you secure funding for your top three prizes, the only money you should need is for flyers to hang in area schools, libraries, and other places where high school students hang out.
8. Prepare your final logistics and your follow-up plan.
- How will students register? Eventbrite is an easy option, and it allows you to capture e-mail addresses at the same time.
- What are the judging criteria? Will the scores be whole numbers, one to 10, based on a specific rubric? Will points be deducted for going over or under time? Make the criteria clear to participants upon registration, and make sure to have scorecards and pens for the judges to use.
- What order will speakers go in, and when will you inform them?
- Will you suggest a dress code for the speakers to make sure they know that this is a professional event?
- How will you keep time for the speakers? Will you have someone indicating how much time has gone by?
- Will you need a microphone or podium, given the size and acoustics of the room?
- How much seating will you need for the audience?
- How will you reach out to your sponsors and participants after the contest to keep them, their parents, and their schools engaged with AAUW?
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