Competitive Speaking

Adjudication & scoring for competitive speaking

Analysis of each speaker’s performance is based on scoring of two broad areas of their speech to judge the speech as a whole:

  • 50% for impact on the intellect, and
  • 50% for impact on the emotions.

Scoring Matrix 

In a competition all competitors are ranked by each individual competitor’s aggregate of both these scores.

For instance, the highest mark is scored as 1, the next speaker as 2 and so on. As all speakers are ranked this means that speakers cannot be given an equal ranking.
The rankings of each adjudicator are then totalled and will produce a score of the winner being the speaker with the lowest total score.

Impact on intellect

Judge the ability of the speaker to achieve a perceived purpose with logical and sequential theme development, based on consideration of:

  1. Material – Scope, accuracy, clarity, relevance, logic and adequacy.
  2. Arrangement – Introduction, body, conclusion and general construction.
  3. Progression – Cohesion, timing, logic, development, evidence of research and preparation. Language – Words, sentences, phrases, grammar, word pictures and figures of speech.
  4. Appeal – Imagination, originality, wit, illustrations and highlights.

Impact on emotions

Judge the ability of the speaker to affect the audience with the presentation of the material, based on consideration of:

  1. Visual impact – Appearance, stance, gesture, notes, use of eyes, visual aids.
  2. Vocal impact – Quality, clarity, variety, volume, pitch, pause, pace and pronunciation.
  3. Empathy – Contact, understanding, acceptance and audience involvement.
  4. Mood – Feeling, emphasis, enthusiasm, sincerity and speaker involvement.
  5. Appeal – Credible, entertaining, memorable, motivating and convincing.


Model for competition speeches

Click here to download or view a PDF of a table by Joanne Turbett setting out the three elements of a framework preparing, composing &  presenting a competitive speech.

Click here to download or view a PDF of Rostrum WA’s Competitive adjudication scoring sheet.