Speech Contest FAQ

Dates and Location

Q) What is the location and date of the contest?
A) in 2023, the contest will be held at the BCBSM Lyon Meadows Conference Center. 53200 Grand River Avenue, New Hudson, MI 48165. It will take place on Wednesday, February 15, 2023. Contestant check-in at 4 pm. Contest meeting begins at 4:30 pm.

Q) When should speech drafts and eligibility forms be submitted?
A) On or before Sunday, January 15, 2023.


Q) Who is eligible?
A) Any student grade 9 – 12 in the state of Michigan including public, private and home schools. There is no preference or exclusion for students based on school, home location, grade, or relationship to sponsoring organization.

Q) Are all entries allowed to compete?
A) The number of contestants will be determined by the contest committee based on the number of applications and evaluation of the speech drafts.

Q) How many students will compete?
A) The number of contestants In the past five years has ranged from six to eleven students in the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan LDA contest.

Q) Will late submissions be accepted?
A) Late submissions will be considered at the discretion of the contest committee.

Q) Can past year contestant compete again?
A) Yes, as long as they are within the eligible grade and area. However, if a student has previously won the first place prize at the National contest, they cannot compete again.

Q) What is required to apply?
A) A written speech draft, signed Eligibility form and signed Consent and Acknowledgement of Risk forms must be submitted to the Contest Director. Forms and submissions details are on the Apply webpage.

Q) Is there an application fee?
A) No, it’s free to apply and compete.

Speech Requirements

Q) Must the speech be original?
A) Yes, the student should write an original speech. Quotations and/or copyrighted materials may be used, but the student must identify the original author.

Q) Can the speech be on any Leadership topic?
A) Leadership must be the primary topic. Non-leadership subjects such as social, medical, environmental, politics, etc… must not be the primary topics.

Q) Must speech be memorized?
A) Memorization is recommended. Notes are allowed during speech, but the speech cannot be read. Speeches are judged on delivery as well as content. 

Q) What are the time limits for the speech?

A) Four to Six minutes. A Time Keeping official will notify contestants when 4 minute, 5½ minute and 6 minute mark has been reached.

Q) Are speeches disqualified for going under minimum, or over maximum time limit?
A) No, but points are deducted from the judges’ scores if under 3 minute 50 seconds, or more than 6 minutes, 20 seconds.

Q) Can student repeat a speech given in prior year’s contest?
A) Returning students can repeat a prior year’s speech, or present a modified version, or write a new original speech. All speeches must be original.


Q) What kind of mentoring is offered?
A) Written feedback will be provided on the speech drafts submitted. A one-on-one mentoring session will be provided two or three weeks prior to the contest. Additional written or one-on-one sessions can be requested. Students are encouraged to seek coaching.

Q) Who will mentor the students?
A) Qualified mentors will be selected from Toastmasters International and BCBSM LDA members.

Q) Are students required to attend mentoring session? A) No, but it is highly beneficial to the student to receive and incorporate feedback from the mentors. Students should confirm whether they will attend the mentoring session or make other arrangements to meet with their assigned mentor(s).

Q) Can students seek additional mentoring from school or other sources?
A) Yes. Students are encouraged to seek feedback, coaching or mentoring from others including family, teachers, youth leaders and other sources.

At the Contest (When in person)

Q) Are guests allowed to attend the contest?
A) Yes, students are encouraged to invite family and supportive guests. To allow for uninterrupted speeches and periods of silence for judging, small children should not attend.

Q) Are pictures and video recordings allowed during the contest?
A) During the contest, no audience pictures or recordings are allowed. The BCBSM LDA will video record the entire meeting, and make copies available to contestants. After the contest, pictures are encouraged.

Q) Is free, secured parking available at the contest?
A) Yes, it will be available on site.

Judging, Awards, Progressing to Regional and National contests

Q) What are the judging criteria?
A) 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 Download a Sample Judges’ Ballot with judging criteria

Q) Who will judge the contest?
A) Judges will be selected from executives of the National Management Association chapter and local Toastmasters International members.

Q) Will contest scoring be shared with the students?
A) No, judges’ scores will remain confidential. Students may request verbal feedback from judges or mentors after the contest.

Q) How will the scholarship awards and recognition be given?
A) Winning students will receive a check via mail approximately 7-10 days after the contest. Winner and participation will receive certificates via mailed approximately 7-10 days after the contest. Winners’ trophies will be given after engraving approximately 30 days after the contest.

Q) How many students will proceed to the next level of competition?
A) The First Place student from the local NMA Speech Contest will advance to the National contest.

Q) Who pays expenses for the Regional and National contest?
A) The BCBSM LDA will reimburse the travel expenses and one night lodging for the winning student and one parent or guardian.