The Importance of Originality in Contest Speeches

Our spring contest season is approaching and clubs are preparing for their club contests. It is vital that all of our contestants know the importance of originality in their speeches and exactly what this means.

According to the 2014 Speech Contest Rulebook, page 6 section 4 Speech Subject and Preparation, “Contestants must prepare their own speeches, and each must be substantially original.”

What does “substantially original” mean?

Twenty-five percent or less of the speech may be devoted to quoting, paraphrasing, or referencing another person’s content. Any quoted, paraphrased, or referenced content must be so identified during the speech presentation.

Here are some examples of content that would not be original:

  • Using anecdotes found in books or on the Internet. It is using someone else’s content.
  • Borrowing characters, even though the plot line is new.
  • Retelling historical events.

If a contestant has doubts about whether his or her speech meets the criteria for originality, I would suggest running it by several people to get their opinions before the contest.

The rules on originality apply to all types of contest speeches.
by Cindy Hinckley