16 Public Speaking Competitions You Must Take Part In

Public speaking competitions

Public speaking competitions are those spotlight events that help you polish yourself and gain exposure and you never know what kind of opportunity it might invite to knock on your door.

Public speaking is the art of conveying information to an audience through an oral presentation. It can be done in person or through digital technology. But more importantly, it is a life-changing skill when you master communication with a large audience. The US has many such platforms to allow you to take part in plenty of competitions.

The Top 8 Public Speaking Competitions in the US

Today we’ll be discussing 8 fantastic public speaking competitions, highlighting their significance in enhancing communication skills, expanding your network, boosting self-confidence, and much more. If you’re just starting in the world of public speaking competitions, rest assured that by the end of this blog, you’ll be equipped with newfound confidence, knowledge, and motivation. Without any further delay, let’s dive into the world of these remarkable public speaking competitions!

1. Toastmasters International:

Toastmasters is a globally recognized organization that offers a supportive environment for honing public speaking and leadership skills. Participants engage in regular meetings, deliver speeches, and receive constructive feedback. It’s an ideal starting point for beginners and seasoned speakers alike.

Who Can Participate: Anyone above the age of 18.

Eligibility: Generally, open to all individuals regardless of experience level. To compete at higher levels within Toastmasters, you typically need to be a paid member of a Toastmasters club.

2. National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA):

NSDA hosts a range of speech and debate competitions across the USA. From persuasive speaking to dramatic interpretation, it offers a diverse platform for students to excel. Participation can lead to scholarships and enhance college applications.

Who Can Participate: Middle and high school students in the United States.

Eligibility: Participants must be students at schools that are affiliated with NSDA and actively participate in school-sponsored speech and debate activities.

3. National Speakers Association (NSA) Contest:

NSA offers speaking contests for aspiring professional speakers. Competing in these contests can help speakers refine their skills and gain exposure. Winners may receive recognition within the speaking industry and enhance their careers.

Who Can Participate: Aspiring professional speakers and members of NSA.

Eligibility: Typically open to members of the NSA who are looking to refine their speaking skills and gain industry recognition. Contest rules may vary.

4. Poetry Out Loud:

A competition for high school students to recite poetry. It encourages appreciation for literary arts and boosts public speaking skills. Winners can earn scholarships and advance to the national competition.

Who Can Participate: High school students in the United States.

Eligibility: Open to high school students who compete at the school level and progress through local, state, and national levels.

5. International Public Speaking Competition (IPSC):

The English-speaking Union USA organizes IPSC. It brings together young speakers from around the world to discuss global issues. Participation promotes cross-cultural understanding and communication skills.

Who Can Participate: Young speakers from around the world.

Eligibility: Open to students who participate in competitions at the national level and win the opportunity to represent their country at the international level. Organized by the English-speaking Union USA.

6. National Forensic League (NFL):

NFL offers a variety of speech and debate events for students. Competing in categories like extemporaneous speaking and original oratory helps develop strong communication skills. Success can lead to recognition and scholarship opportunities.

Who Can Participate: Middle and high school students in the United States.

Eligibility: Participants must be students at schools that are affiliated with the NFL and actively participate in school-sponsored speech and debate events.

7. American Legion Oratorical Contest:

This competition is designed for high school students to discuss the US Constitution. It encourages participants to explore and articulate the principles of American democracy. Scholarships and valuable experiences await winners.

Who Can Participate: High school students in the United States.

Eligibility: Open to high school students who wish to discuss the U.S. Constitution. Participants compete at the local, state, and national levels.

8. Hult Prize:

The Hult Prize challenges university students to develop social entrepreneurship projects. Teams pitch their ideas at regional events, addressing global issues. It’s an opportunity to apply public speaking skills to drive positive social change.

Who Can Participate: University students globally.

Eligibility: Teams of university students can participate. It’s an opportunity to apply public speaking skills to pitch social entrepreneurship projects at regional events, addressing global issues.

Participating in these public speaking competitions can be a transformative experience, fostering confidence, communication abilities, and the chance to make a meaningful impact.

Public Speaking Competitions for High School Students: Nurturing the Orators of Tomorrow!

High school is a dynamic phase in a student’s life, marked by academic exploration, personal growth, and the pursuit of passions. Engaging in public speaking competitions at this juncture can profoundly impact a student’s development, equipping them with essential life skills and setting the stage for future success. In this segment, we will delve into lesser-known but equally impactful public speaking competitions designed specifically for high school students:

1. Science Olympiad Speaking Events:

Combining science and public speaking, these competitions offer a unique opportunity for young scientists to articulate complex ideas. Events like Write It Do It and Experimental Design challenge participants to convey scientific concepts effectively. Students enhance their ability to communicate technical knowledge, a valuable skill for future STEM careers.

Eligibility: Participation is usually open to students from schools or organizations that are registered to compete in Science Olympiad events. Specific event rules and grade-level restrictions may apply, so participants should check with their local Science Olympiad chapter or the official website for details.

2. High School Ethics Bowl:

Ethics Bowl competitions encourage students to engage in ethical discussions and debates. Teams analyze real-world ethical dilemmas, discussing the moral implications and presenting well-structured arguments. Participation fosters ethical reasoning, critical thinking, and the ability to articulate principled viewpoints.

Eligibility: Schools or teams can register to participate in Ethics Bowl competitions. There may be regional or state-level competitions leading to national events. Specific eligibility criteria can vary by location, so participants should check with their local Ethics Bowl organizers.

3. History Day Presentations:

National History Day competitions enable students to explore historical topics and present their findings. Whether through documentaries, exhibits, or performances, students learn to narrate history compellingly. These competitions nurture storytelling and historical analysis skills, essential in various professions.

Eligibility: Students can participate through their schools or independently in National History Day competitions. Participants typically create historical projects, such as documentaries, exhibits, or performances, related to a specific theme. Regional and national competitions may have different entry requirements, so participants should consult the National History Day website for details.

4. Environmental Public Speaking Challenges:

Numerous organizations host environmental speaking competitions, focusing on ecological issues. Students tackle topics like climate change, conservation, and sustainable practices. Participating instills environmental awareness and empowers students to advocate for a greener future.

Eligibility: Eligibility can vary by the organizing entity. Some competitions may be open to specific grade levels or regions. Interested students should review the guidelines provided by the hosting organization for each specific environmental speaking challenge.

5. Model United Nations (MUN) Speeches:

While MUN primarily involves debate, students’ public speaking skills play a pivotal role. Delegates deliver speeches on global issues, addressing international committees. MUN enhances research, diplomacy, and persuasive speaking skills, preparing students for global citizenship.

Eligibility: Students typically participate through their school’s MUN club or team. While MUN primarily involves debate, students must often be part of an organized delegation to attend conferences. Participation requirements and eligibility can vary by conference and school.

6. Poetry Slam Competitions:

Poetry slams provide a platform for self-expression through spoken word poetry. High school students create and perform their poems, addressing themes close to their hearts. These events celebrate creativity, self-confidence, and the power of poetic storytelling.

Eligibility: Open to high school students, often organized by schools or local poetry organizations. Participants typically create their poems and compete in local or regional slam events.

7. Academic Decathlon Speeches:

Academic Decathlon includes speech events where students present on various academic subjects. Speech categories encompass topics like literature, economics, and science. Participation sharpens research, presentation, and subject expertise.

Eligibility: Students typically participate as part of their school’s Academic Decathlon team. Eligibility criteria can vary by location and the specific rules of the Academic Decathlon organization.

8. Forensic Science Speaking Competitions:

These competitions combine science and communication, challenging students to present forensic findings. Students become “forensic experts,” elucidating complex cases and engaging the audience. Forensic science competitions nurture critical thinking, scientific communication, and teamwork.

Eligibility: Eligibility criteria can vary depending on the competition organizer. Students often participate through their school or forensic science clubs. Specific eligibility details should be available through the organizing entity.

Participating in these unique high school public speaking competitions equips students with a diverse set of skills, from scientific communication to ethical reasoning and creative expression. Beyond honing their speaking abilities, these competitions foster a deeper understanding of the subjects they tackle, preparing them for the complexities of higher education and the opportunities that await in their future careers. By embracing these competitions, high school students not only become proficient speakers but also empowered individuals ready to make a positive impact on the world

How to participate in Public speaking Competitions?

Participating in public speaking competitions can be a rewarding experience. Here are some general guidelines and formalities needed to take part in such competitions:

Select a Competition: Start by carefully selecting a competition that aligns with your interests, strengths, and objectives. Consider whether it’s a school-based event, a regional contest, or a specialized competition like Toastmasters. Your choice should reflect your passion and comfort with the competition’s format.

Check Eligibility: Review the eligibility criteria diligently to ensure you meet all requirements. Some competitions may have age restrictions, specific school affiliations, or membership prerequisites. Adhering to these eligibility criteria is vital to avoid disqualification.

Register: Once you’ve chosen a competition and confirmed your eligibility, proceed with the registration process. This step often entails completing forms, submitting necessary documents, and, in some cases, paying registration fees. Make sure to submit all required materials within the specified deadlines to secure your participation.

Research and Sources: If your competition involves presenting factual information, invest effort in comprehensive research. Seek out authoritative sources to bolster your arguments or assertions. Being well-prepared with reliable data enhances your credibility and persuasiveness.

Always refer to the official guidelines provided by the competition organizers for any specific details or variations in the process.

What are the Primary Goals of Public Speaking Competitions:

Public speaking competitions are events where individuals showcase their speaking abilities and communication skills before an audience or panel of judges. These competitions provide a platform for participants to craft and deliver persuasive speeches on a variety of topics, ranging from personal experiences to social issues and global challenges.

Participants are often evaluated on factors such as clarity of expression, organization of ideas, persuasive techniques, and overall delivery. These competitions come in various formats, including impromptu speaking, debate-style events, or prepared speeches.

The primary goals of public speaking competitions are to:

  1. Enhance Communication Skills: Participants refine their ability to convey their thoughts and ideas effectively to different audiences, fostering better communication skills.
  1. Boost Confidence: Overcoming the fear of speaking in public and receiving constructive feedback can significantly increase self-confidence.
  1. Develop Critical Thinking: Crafting persuasive arguments and addressing counterarguments in speeches requires participants to think critically and engage with various perspectives.
  1. Promote Networking: Competitors have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, mentors, and judges who can offer valuable feedback and guidance.
  1. Foster Personal Growth: Public speaking competitions challenge individuals to step out of their comfort zones, encouraging personal growth, increased resilience, and the ability to handle stress and pressure.

In summary, public speaking competitions serve as platforms for individuals to not only improve their communication skills but also develop essential life skills. These competitions come in various formats and are open to participants of all ages, making them accessible to anyone looking to enhance their speaking abilities and personal development.

How public speaking competitions can boost your career: 

Public speaking competitions have emerged as valuable platforms for individuals seeking career advancement. While they may seem like events limited to eloquent speeches and well-articulated arguments, these competitions offer far more than just the chance to demonstrate communication prowess. They serve as catalysts for personal and professional growth, contributing significantly to one’s career trajectory.

1. Career Growth Catalyst:

Participating in public speaking competitions can catapult your career to new heights. These events provide a unique opportunity to develop and showcase your communication skills. Whether you’re aiming for a leadership position, a sales role, or any job that requires effective communication, excelling in public speaking competitions can set you apart from the competition.

2. Confidence Booster:

Confidence is a key ingredient for success in any career. Stepping onto the competition stage, facing an audience, and delivering a well-prepared speech can significantly boost your self-assurance. This newfound confidence extends beyond the competition, making you more comfortable and persuasive in professional interactions and presentations.

3. Sharper Critical Thinking:

Public speaking competitions require participants to craft persuasive speeches, respond to impromptu topics, and defend their arguments. These activities sharpen critical thinking skills, which are invaluable in various professional contexts. Whether you’re analyzing data, solving complex problems, or making strategic decisions, the ability to think critically sets you apart as an asset to your organization.

4. Networking Goldmine:

Public speaking competitions often bring together diverse participants, including students, professionals, and experts in various fields. This diverse gathering presents a networking goldmine, offering opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals and industry leaders. These connections can lead to valuable professional relationships, mentorship opportunities, and even job offers.

5. Leadership Incubator:

Managing the entire process of preparing and delivering speeches, including time management and responding to feedback, nurtures leadership skills. These skills are transferable to leadership roles in the workplace, where effective communication and decision-making are paramount.

6. Professional Appeal:

Success in public speaking competitions can significantly enhance your professional appeal. It’s a compelling addition to your resume, showcasing exceptional communication skills. Employers in fields such as sales, marketing, public relations, and customer relations value candidates who can articulate their ideas persuasively.

7. Personal Brand Builder:

Recognition as a skilled communicator through participation and success in public speaking competitions can cultivate a strong personal brand. This brand can attract professional opportunities and collaborations, as it demonstrates your ability to convey ideas effectively.

8. Emotional Intelligence and Resilience:

Competing in public speaking competitions fosters emotional intelligence and resilience. Dealing with the pressure of competition, receiving constructive criticism, and adapting to unexpected situations build emotional resilience. These skills are invaluable for handling workplace challenges and navigating complex interpersonal dynamics.

9. Enhanced Presentation Skills:

Improved presentation skills, honed through competition, can make professionals stand out in various professional settings. Whether addressing large audiences, leading meetings, or delivering client presentations, the ability to engage and persuade is a valuable asset.

10. Global Perspective:

Some public speaking competitions have international components, exposing participants to diverse viewpoints and cultures. This exposure is vital for careers in international business, diplomacy, or nonprofit work, where understanding and respecting different cultures and perspectives are essential.

11. Commitment to Lifelong Learning:

Participating in public speaking competitions promotes a commitment to lifelong learning. As you continue to refine your speaking skills, you stay updated with industry trends and research. This commitment is highly regarded in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving professional landscape.

In conclusion, public speaking competitions are not just about eloquence and winning trophies. They are powerful tools for personal development and career advancement. By participating and excelling in these competitions, you can boost your confidence, critical thinking skills, and professional appeal while building a strong personal brand and a network of valuable connections. These benefits, along with enhanced emotional intelligence and resilience, position you as a well-rounded and highly sought-after professional in your chosen field.

What are 5 main elements effective in public speaking Competitions:

A. Audience Connection: 

Cultivating a profound connection with your audience is paramount when it comes to effective public speaking. It necessitates a nuanced understanding of your audience’s demographics, psychographics, and predispositions. Immerse yourself in their perspectives, apprehensions, and aspirations. Craft your speech with the finesse of a storyteller, weaving narratives and anecdotes that resonate with your audience’s collective consciousness. Master the art of empathy to create a genuine bond, allowing your audience to perceive you not just as a speaker but as an empathetic guide. Sustaining unwavering eye contact with your audience is an instrumental conduit for establishing this connection, signifying your unwavering engagement and belief in your message.

B. Confidence and Practice: 

Confidence isn’t an ephemeral, elusive quality—it’s a manifestation of meticulous preparation and relentless practice. It commences with an encyclopedic comprehension of your subject matter. You must internalize your content, assimilate it into your mental fabric, and be prepared to field questions or challenges with finesse. Practice incessantly, refining your delivery, and fine-tuning your intonation and body language. Utilize mirrors, video recordings, or live audiences to scrutinize your performance from multiple angles. The crucible of practice forges unshakeable confidence, imbuing you with the certitude that you can navigate any potential missteps or unexpected deviations with aplomb.

C. Content Excellence: 

The efficacy of your speech hinges on the superlative quality of its content. Your message should be an exquisite blend of clarity, coherence, and conciseness. Begin with a captivating exordium that captivates your audience’s imagination and delineates the thematic contours of your discourse. The corpus of your speech should be an edifice of logical progression, each point dovetailing elegantly into the next. Ensure that your content is germane and riveting, addressing the quintessential concerns of your audience. Conclude with a denouement that encapsulates the quintessence of your message in an indelible, memorable manner.

D. Delivery Mastery: 

The art of public speaking is intrinsically intertwined with the finesse of delivery. Pay meticulous attention to your tonal cadence, pace, and body language. Enunciate your words with crystalline clarity and audacious confidence. Modulate your tonalities to sustain your audience’s rapt attention, employing strategic pauses to underscore salient points. Leverage gesticulation and facial expressions judiciously to underscore the gravity of pivotal ideas. It’s imperative to internalize that silence can be as potent as speech itself—deploy it judiciously for dramatic effect. To elevate your delivery, excise extraneous filler words such as “um” and “ah,” which can dilute the poignancy of your message. A confident, engaging delivery style amplifies the resonance of your speech.

E. Visual Aids Utilization: 

Visual aids can serve as invaluable tools to augment your presentation. Whether incorporating slides, props, or multimedia elements, employ them judiciously to augment your message’s impact. Embrace minimalism in your visual aids, eschewing clutter for clarity. Select graphics and imagery that impeccably reinforce your core tenets. Visual aids should serve as enhancers of your speech, not detractors. Ensure that they are facile for your audience to decipher and assimilate. Rigorous practice with your visual aids is imperative to seamlessly integrate them into your presentation, harnessing their potential to fortify your message.

By meticulously attending to these five foundational elements of effective public speaking, you’ll find yourself emboldened to traverse a wide array of speaking scenarios with competence and finesse. Whether addressing a corporate assembly, captivating an audience at a public speaking competition, or delivering a motivational keynote, these elements will crystallize your impact and establish you as a consummate orator.

Famous Public Speaking Competition Winners:

Public speaking competitions have been fertile grounds for cultivating exceptional orators, and unearthing talents that dazzle and inspire. These competitions serve as crucibles where participants hone their speaking skills, and the best among them emerge as champions. Let’s shine a spotlight on some of the remarkable winners who have left an indelible mark on the world of public speaking.

Darren Tay:

Hailing from Singapore, Darren Tay is a prime example of a public speaking competition winner. He clinched the title of the World Champion of Public Speaking in 2016, awarded by Toastmasters International. His speech, “Outsmart; Outlast,” showcased his remarkable storytelling and communication skills, solidifying his place as a champion speaker.

Dananjaya Hettiarachchi: 

From Sri Lanka, Dananjaya Hettiarachchi became the World Champion of Public Speaking in 2014. His speech, “I See Something,” wowed audiences and judges alike with its powerful message and impeccable delivery. Dananjaya’s victory in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest highlights his excellence in the world of competitive public speaking.

Mohammed Qahtani: 

Hailing from Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Qahtani secured the title of World Champion of Public Speaking in 2015. His speech, “The Power of Words,” earned him the championship at Toastmasters International. Mohammed’s ability to craft compelling narratives and engage his audience set him apart as a true public speaking champion.

Ryan Avery:

 Ryan Avery, from the United States, became the World Champion of Public Speaking in 2012. His speech, “Trust is a Must,” showcased his charisma and ability to connect with his audience. Ryan’s victory in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest reflects his exceptional talent as a competitive public speaker.

Jock Elliott:

Jock Elliott, an Australian speaker, clinched the title of the World Champion of Public Speaking in 2011. His speech, “Just Another Saturday Night,” demonstrated his storytelling prowess and earned him the prestigious championship from Toastmasters International.

These remarkable individuals, as winners of prestigious public speaking competitions, have showcased their exceptional skills, captivated audiences, and earned their places in the annals of competitive public speaking history. Their victories serve as a testament to the transformative power of effective communication and the lasting impact that the best public speaking competition winners can have on the world.


In the grand theater of life, where every conversation is a chance to shine, the spotlight often falls on those who master the art of public speaking. Just like a Hollywood blockbuster that keeps you on the edge of your seat, public speaking competitions offer suspense, drama, and moments of sheer brilliance.

From the iconic stage presence of Toastmasters International to the thrilling debates hosted by the National Speech & Debate Association, these competitions aren’t just contests; they’re a journey of self-discovery, growth, and triumph. Like Rocky Balboa rising against all odds or the Avengers assembling for the ultimate showdown, participants in public speaking competitions learn to harness their inner power and captivate audiences with their words.

As we’ve explored the realm of public speaking competitions, we’ve uncovered the secrets of effective communication, the benefits for one’s career, and the impact on high school students. We’ve delved into the five main elements of effective public speaking, unlocking the keys to success. And we’ve celebrated the best public speaking competition winners, the true heroes of this narrative.

So, whether you’re an aspiring orator or simply someone looking to enhance your communication skills, remember that the stage is set, and your moment in the spotlight awaits. Take inspiration from the champions who have paved the way and embrace the thrill of the competition. You might deliver a performance that leaves the audience chanting for an encore. So step into the arena, seize the microphone, and let your voice echo through the halls of inspiration. The curtain is up, and it’s your time to shine. Action! 🎤🌟

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