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WHSFA Speech Categories


A demonstration speech explains how to do something or how something works. Objects or physical activity by the demonstrator must be exhibited. Visual aids (charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, pictures, etc.) are optional and may be used to enhance the demonstration but are not to take the place of objects or activity. The speech must be instructive and present valuable and significant information.


The Extemporaneous Speech should provide a direct response to the question drawn. The challenge to the speaker is to phrase a clear proposition and support it with contentions which are in turn supported with evidence and reasoning. The participant may use resource material from any publication, but questions - supplied by the WHSFA State Office for every level - will be drawn from January, February, March, and April issues of Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News and World Report.


The challenge of "Farrago" is to select material from a variety of literary genre (poetry, short stories, speeches, essays, drama, novels) which addresses a central specific theme or emotion and to interpret the material through oral presentation. Quality material is required. Quality material provides insight into human values, motivations, relationships, problems, and understandings and is not characterized by sentimentality, violence for its own sake, unmotivated endings, or stereotyped characterizations. The student is to include introductory and transitional material to establish and maintain coherence of development.

Four Minute

The challenge to the speaker is to present well-developed material which has the primary intent of informing, although persuasive elements may be present. The speech is to be coherent, unified, and clear. A range of support materials and devices are to be used which can include quotations, statistics, examples, comparisons, and analogies.

Group Interpretive Reading

Contrary to dramatic performance, the challenge of this category is to present a literary script in such manner that the audience imagines acting being described rather than witnessing it being performed. Symbolic characterization and vocal and physical action rather than a literal dramatization or pantomime is require. Ideas are imagined through oral reading and not through acting. The script may be a cutting, a complete work, or a script compiled from a variety of sources. The material may be prose, poetry, or essay - or a combination of these forms - but drama is prohibited. Appropriate introductions and transitions are expected. A visible manuscript or book is required for each participant. Material is to be read from the printed page with optional use of reading stands. Movement to suggest relationships, feelings, changes, ideas, moods, locales, etc., consistent with the offstage focus of the presentation is acceptable and subject to evaluation. On-stage focus (direct eye contact) and physical contact (touching) between participants is prohibited. Any non-mechanical sound effects and forms of vocal music must be an integral part of the literature and incidental to the performance.

Moments in History

The challenge to the speaker is to select an historical topic within the limits presented each year by WHSFA. The general focus for a speech in this category is an exploration of history. Students may consider (but are not limited to) using the following areas of research: archival records, diaries, personal interviews, letters, newspapers, etc. The speaker is to use this researched information to compose and present a well-organized, informative speech. Speakers may use visual material, but such material must support , not dominate, the presentation. This category calls for a speech, not a visual media show or an acting performance.


While other WHSFA speaking categories will contain the same elements - at least to some degree - as Oratory, the oration is expected to be a thoroughly prepared, well composed, well expressed speech of exhortation on a significant topic. As such, the oration must be unequivocally persuasive in its purpose. It may fulfill its persuasive challenge in one of three ways: 1)by alerting the audience to the existence of a problem; 2) by affirming the existence of a problem and offering a solution; 3) by urging the adoption of a policy. While the topic of the oration should be of significance to general society, it should be adapted to an audience composed of the speaker's peers. The good oration is characterized by clear, vivid, and forceful language and appropriate stylistic devices such as metaphor, comparison-contrast, irony, etc. Finally, thoughtfulness as reflected in the choice of an approach or the topic and the quality of supporting materials is a necessary part of the good oration.

Play Acting

An entry in the Play Acting Category is a presentation of a scene or cutting from a play by a group of two to five participants. Lines are to be spoken from memory and participants are expected to move as they would in a fully produced play. The scene selected for presentation must be represented without costumes, makeup, lights, or properties other than an available table (or desk as a substitute) and chairs is required. Hand props as well as stage props (except those mentioned) are not permitted. Music and mechanical or electronic sound effects are also prohibited. Emphasis is on the development of the character and appropriate physical movement. Physical actions other than stage movement will need to be pantomimed. It is permissible for participants to play more than one character or for groups to present dramatic material consisting of  series of vignettes. However, entrants should be aware that such material or production styles are subject to evaluation. Extreme fragmentation of actors into multiple roles may have a severely adverse impact on the ability to develop a believable character portrayal during the limited time available. An introduction which provides the title and author and familiarizes the audience with the tone and theme of the cutting is required.


The participant should select to read a poem or a group of poems centering on a specific theme or emotion. Original material is allowed. An introduction, which includes title and author, and nay transitions necessary are to be written by the participant and are to be presented without the use of notes.

A selection from prose literature, including short stories, cutting form novels, drama, essays or other non-fiction work centering on a specific theme or emotion, is to be read. Original material is allowed. An introduction, which includes title and author, and any necessary transition are to be written by the reader and should be presented without the use of notes.



The challenge to the speaker is to present a well-organized, clearly communicated newscast. Source material provided by the State Office of approximately 15-20 minutes in length is to be cut and edited with special efforts made to end right at 5 minutes. The host school is to proved the judge with a copy of the packet of material given to each speaker. At least one commercial is to be included within the time limit of the presentation.

Solo Acting

The material for Solo Acting shall be a cutting form serious or humorous drama or other literature adapted to the dramatic format with brief narrative transitions allowed. Original material may not be used. The material may be a monologue or a selection which includes any number of characters. The number of characters is not limited. A total of four students from a school may enter with any combination of "Serious" or "Humorous" desired. Separate sections are to be held at all levels - sub district, district, and state - requiring entry forms to designate whether the student is performing a "Serious" or "Humorous" selection,. Quality material in both divisions must be used. Quality material is characterized by insights into human values, motivations, relationships, problems, and understandings and is not characterized by sentimentality, violence for its own sake, unmotivated endings, or stereotyped characterizations. By using the self as a medium between the selection and the audience, the student shall create the character(s) and shall utilize action appropriate to the characterization(s) within the control of the setting. The student shall also prepare an introduction which includes author(s) and selction(s) and prepares the listener for the emotional and intellectual content of the selection.

Special Occasion

The challenge to the speaker is to make an appropriate presentation which responds to the constraints of the occasion (including the probable audience). In considering the "appropriateness" of the speaker's work, attention will be paid to the purpose the speaker chooses, the position taken, the content, organization and general stylistic "tone," and the manner of delivery. It is possible that a speech may pursue more than one of the standard general purposes of informing, persuading, and entertaining. Speakers may use visual material but such material must support - not  dominate- the presentation. This category calls for a speech, not a visual media show. The "situations" for Special Occasion Speech from which the student selects are to be changed from year to year.


To tell a story is to chronicle events. The burden of the storyteller is to chronicle those events in a coherent, unified, clear, and interesting manner. The storyteller may use vocal variation and physical movement to suggest different characters and character relationships in order to make the story clearer and more interesting. The storyteller must sit in a chair; other costumes or props are not permitted. It should be remembered throughout that the emphasis of the storyteller's art is on the teller as intermediary or narrator. The student is expected to "demonstrate a sense of audience" , that is , tell the chosen story in such a manner that it would be suitable for the intended audience be it young children, teenagers, adults or chronologically advanced.

Material for storytelling will be chosen by the student based on the topic areas announced by the State Office. A student will chose and rehearse one or more different stories for each topic area. Original material is acceptable. At WHSFA Festivals all students will report to the participation room. The student will bring a single card listing the five topic areas, with one different title, and author(s) for each. Before each performance the student will present the card to the adjudicator. The adjudicator will choose and initial the selection to be told that round. The student will be required to tell a different selection each round. Adjudicator will return card to the speaker.