History buffs often enjoy this category. Students in this category choose a speech that was given by a notable person in history and analyze why the speech was important and relevant to its audience. Evidence needs to be given explaining why the speech is great. The presentation includes excerpts of the chosen speech along with analysis of the speech.
Official Rules - 2013
- Great Speeches is an event in which the contestant speaks about either a single speech OR an anthology of speeches (not to exceed three) related by common author, theme, or other element.
- Each speech (public address) must have been delivered by the speaker before the speaker's intended original audience. For example, "Sermon on the Mount" is Biblical Prose; "Antony's Funeral Oration" is Shakespearean Drama. The contestant's analysis should convey the delight, edification, and challenge of contemporary or historical public address.
- Information about each author/speaker, subject, original audience, and occasion must be included in an introduction. During the presentation, the contestant must also justify the selection for presentation to the contestant's immediate audience. The justification need not be an explicit statement, but may include such subjects as the historical or potential importance, language style, rhetorical technique and audience appeal. Comments about textual accuracy and ghostwriting style may be included where appropriate. All materials quoted, paraphrased, or summarized from other sources must be documented both orally and in the written text.
- A minimum of 25% of the presentation must be the contestant's own material. How portions of the original speech text are incorporated into the participant's presentation shall be at the discretion of the participant. Statements, analysis and exposition may be either interspersed throughout the presentation or contained in only one or a few portions of the presentation.
- For purposes of documentation, the student is required to provide a citation indicating the source of the selected speech within the written and oral text of the student’s speech. Recorded speeches may be used only if their texts have also been published in print or online.
- Judging should be on the general effectiveness of the student's interaction with the audience to share the greatness of the speech. The Judge's primary attention should be on the participant's judgment in choosing and editing the material, sensitivity to author's ideas and purpose, and, especially, the speaker's analysis of historical potential, and/or rhetorical importance of the speech. The student may, but is not required to, use a rhetorical model. Secondly, delivery emphasis should be on communication. Since this is not a prose interpretation event, posturing, impersonation, and imitation are to be avoided.
- A copy of the script must be filed with the Contest Manager before each contest. Updated copies of the script must be submitted at Subsection, Section, and State levels.
- The use of a script is optional, provided it is not used as a prop.
- THE MAXIMUM TIME OF THE PRESENTATION SHALL NOT EXCEED EIGHT (8) MINUTES. NO GRACE PERIOD IS PROVIDED IN THIS EVENT.
Complete speech rules and FAQs on rule interpretations can be found on the MSHSL website.