What’s The NMA Leadership Speech Contest All About?

NMA:  Teaching the World’s Youth about Leadership! The NMA Leadership Speech Contest is open to students in grades 9-12 and is a unique opportunity to research, write, and present a 4-6 minute address to an NMA audience.  The subject?  Leadership – what it is, what comprises its attributes, who personifies your definition of a “leader”, or whatever else works its way into the students’ understanding of the subject.  NMA Chapters reach out to home-schooled students and area high schools to hold local contests.  Winners advance through regional competitions and four finalists receive airfare and room costs to the NMA Annual Conference and compete for a $4,000 top prize.

What do students gain from participation?

By researching, writing, and delivering a speech on Leadership, the young men and women — and their audiences (faculty, family, friends, and NMA members) — acquire a greater understanding of the role that Leadership plays. The contest also provides an incentive for the development of communication skills that will be so vital to them upon entering the workforce or furthering their education. Certainly, the financial rewards help winning students to go on to college or otherwise fulfill their dreams.

The contest is based on four levels of competition:  chapter, council, regional, and national.  These are aligned with the six geographic areas of NMA. Each contest level is under the direction of a contest director who is responsible for coordination of all activities. The first two levels of competition (the chapter and council levels) are conducted between January and March; regional levels are usually held in the spring and the national level is conducted in the fall.

How are the students judged?

NMA reaches out to Toastmasters International to aid in the critical judging area and recommends that all levels of competition be judged by the members of that organization. All speeches must adhere to the general theme of Leadership and must be submitted to the contest director prior to each level.

  • 50% of the total points are awarded for content
  • 30% of the total points are awarded for delivery
  • 20% of the total points are awarded for language

What Materials Are Available to Help Conduct a Speech Contest?

  • A comprehensive Speech Contest Guide
  • Speech Contest Participant Forms
  • Contest Information Packet
  • Posters to leave behind at local high schools
  • Certificates of Achievement for all contestants
  • Promotional DVDs (9-14 minutes in length) from previous Speech Contest Finals at past Annual Conferences are available upon request.

* The Speech Contest Guide is undoubtedly one of the most thorough guidebooks published by the Association. Chapters interested in starting a local contest will find a complete “boiler plate” for every facet and every step of the process — news releases, confirmation forms, sample meeting agendas, letters of invitation, thank you letters to judges, presentation scripts, tally sheets, contest data forms, countless checklists, and much, much more.

Any Important Deadlines of Which I Should Be Aware?

Chapters wishing to conduct a Speech Contest need to submit a “Chapter Confirmation Form” (found in the Planning & Reference Guide) to NMA headquarters by January 31.  This form must be on file at NMA Headquarters in order for students to be eligible to compete.

Where Do I Get Additional Information?