Student Eligibility

Participants must be high school students including home schooled, grades 9 – 12, at the time of the local contest and within the designated area of the sponsoring Chapter.

Levels of Competition

  1. Chapter Level
  2. National Level

AT THE CHAPTER LEVEL, contests run by local NMA chapters, students in grades 9-12 from area high schools including home schooled students in the area compete for prizes determined by the chapter.

AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL, Chapter finalists compete during the fall NMA Annual Conference where contestants compete for cash prizes of $2,000, $1,000, and $500.

Speech Preparation Rules

1. The speech is to relate to Leadership. Speeches at all levels shall have Leadership as its main theme to be considered eligible for competition.

2. Non-leadership issues such as social, medical, environmental, political etc. shall not be primary subjects unless integrated into how leadership plays a role.

3. Each contestant shall research, write and deliver his/her own speech. Advice and coaching is allowed and changes may be made to the speech at any time prior to the contest regardless of level.

4. Contestants shall submit a draft of their speech to the Contest Director prior to participating in the contest to assure the content meets the criteria of Leadership as the main theme. The Contest Director shall establish the deadline for submitting the speech.

5. Contestants shall not identify themselves, their city, state or school in the context of their speech.

6. Notes are allowed, but the speech shall not be read verbatim.

7. Audio/visual aids shall not be used with the presentation.

8. Contestant’s speeches shall be limited to no more than six minutes or less than four minutes.

9. Contestants shall give proper credit to any source from which they derive information. Contestants may use quotations and/or copyrighted materials, but must identify the original author. Acknowledging the source of the material shall be the responsibility of the contestant.

10. Speeches prepared for this contest shall not be presented to any other group without acknowledging that the speech was prepared for and was or will be delivered in this contest.

11. The listed Speech Preparation Rules are also part of the Contest Rules.

Topics for Consideration

Students are free to choose any topic within the subject of Leadership. Sample topics for consideration are:

  • Leadership in the world today
  • Community Leadership or how I can be a leader in my community
  • What makes a good leader?
  • Leadership and the Free Enterprise System
  • Leadership in the new millennium
  • Attributes of a leader or the importance of inclusiveness in leadership
  • Great Leadership Examples
  • Leadership: Past, Present and in the new millennium
  • What Leadership means to me

Contest Rules

A. Competing at the Chapter Level

1. Contestants shall compete in a Chapter Level Contest in order to be eligible to participate in higher Level Contests. At the Chapter Level, contestants shall compete against students in grades 9-12. Contestants shall only compete at one Chapter Level Contest per year.

2. If a contestant has not competed in a Chapter Level Contest, he/she shall not be eligible to compete in any higher level of contest competition. If any doubt exists concerning a contestant’s eligibility, contact NMA Headquarters to resolve the issue promptly.

3. At all contest levels, competing contestants shall not be able to hear nor be in attendance of another contestant’s speech being delivered.

4. Contestants shall be respectful of other contestants at all times and shall conduct themselves in a professional manner.

B. Competing at the National Level

Contestants winning the National Level Contest are ineligible to compete in future NMA Leadership Speech Contests.

C. Documentation

1. For an individual to compete in the Chapter Level Contest, each contestant shall submit a printed or typed copy of the speech (it may be a draft), the “Student Entry Form” and the “Consent and Acknowledgement of Risk Form”. Both forms require the student’s and parent or guardian signatures. The originals are kept by the chapter and a copy of both forms shall be sent promptly to NMA Headquarters along with a printed or typed copy of the speech (it may be a draft).

2. At all levels, written copies (may be a draft) of contestant’s speeches arriving after the due date established by the appropriate Contest Director, may be ruled ineligible for competition.

D. Judging

1. At all contest levels, a minimum of two judges shall be used with an additional tie breaking judge whose ballot will be counted only if a tie occurs.

2. Each judge shall be provided with a clipboard along with a copy of the Judging Criteria, a Judge’s Ballot and a Judge’s Ranking Form (download a sample of the judge’s ballot).

3. All judges shall evaluate all contestants competing in the contest.

4. At all contest levels, one winner shall be designated and the decision of the judges in placing the contestants is final. Scores and ranking shall not be revealed.

5. Individual ballot tabulations by judges shall not be revealed to anyone after the competition has been completed.

E. Time Keeper

1. There shall be one Time Keeper (a backup may also be used) who shall record each contestant’s presentation time on a Time Record Sheet. The Contest Director shall pick up the forms after the last contestant has competed.

2. The length of the contest speech shall be between four and six minutes. The Time Keeper shall indicate intermediate times to the contestant using color cards/lights which shall be clearly visible to each speaker but not obvious to the audience.

  • The green card/light shall be displayed at four (4:00) minutes
  • The yellow card/light shall be displayed at five and a half (5 ½) minutes
  • The red card/light shall be displayed at six (6:00) minutes and remain visible until the speech ends.

3. The Time Keeper shall start the watch with the contestant’s first word uttered to the audience and the watch shall be stopped with the contestant’s last word to the audience.

4. There are no disqualifications for the length of the speech but penalty points may be applied for violating the four to six minute length of speech rule.

F. Speech Time Limits and Grace Period

1. The minimum time for the speech shall be four (4) minutes with a ten second grace period. The speech could be as short as three minutes, fifty seconds (3:50). If the measured time is shorter, a penalty of two points would be applied to the contestant’s score.

2. The maximum time for the speech shall be six (6) minutes with a 20 second grace period (6:20). If the speech is longer, penalty points would be applied to the contestant’s score. A penalty of two points would be applied if the measured time is between six minutes, twenty-one seconds (6:21) and six minutes, thirty seconds (6:30). For measured time longer than six minutes, thirty seconds (6:30), a penalty of five points would be applied.

G. General

1. At all contest levels, NMA shall have the right to edit, publish and/or record any speech used.

2. The listed Speech Preparation Rules are also part of the Contest Rules.

3. If any of the Contest Rules are broken, the contestant shall be disqualified from competing by the appropriate Contest Director.

4. Protest at the Chapter Level shall be in writing and given to the Contest Director who will evaluate and concur with the highest Chapter officer or contest judges to assure a fair evaluation.

5. Protest at the National Level shall be in writing and given to the Contest Director who will evaluate and concur with the NMA President/Chairman of the Board or contest judges to assure a fair evaluation.

6. On the date established for the National Level Speech Contest, all four contestants shall compete at the time and place scheduled for the contest.

Judge’s Criteria

At all contest levels, the judge’s criteria will be based upon:

  • 50% Content – Structure, organization, support materials, purpose, interest, ideas, logic, original thoughts
  • 30% Delivery – Appearance, body language, voice directness, assurance and enthusiasm
  • 20% Language – Appropriateness to speech topic and audience, grammar, pronunciation, word selection