Junior Secondary Speaking Award

Secondary students aged 14 or younger

Successful speakers progress through local, regional and state rounds where they deliver both prepared and impromptu speeches, with the state champion and runner-up both representing NSW at a national final.

student speaking

Latest news

284 students are set to compete at 21 local finals across NSW in the first 3 weeks of Term 3. All the entrants should already know where and when they're competing so if you still need that information email debating@det.nsw.edu.au as soon as you can and we'll get you a reply. Best of luck for your final!

You can read more about how things work below, and you can also access that information as a PDF by downloading the 2024 Junior Secondary Speaking Award information guide (PDF 611.29 KB)

Competition information

The Junior Secondary Speaking Award aims to encourage the use of clear and effective spoken English. The competition began in 1995 as the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award, and since then has provided an opportunity for NSW junior secondary students to improve their confidence and to develop their speech-writing and public speaking skills. In 2024 the competition will run as series of face-to-face local and regional finals, though there’ll be an option to compete online if the nearest event is too far away or the date doesn’t work for your school.

Who is eligible to compete?

The Junior Secondary Speaking Award is open to NSW government and non-government secondary schools. Each school can enter a maximum of two contestants. Contestants must be either Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia. Contestants must have been 14 years of age or younger on 1 January 2024.

How do schools enter the competition?

When entries are open, teachers can use the red button at the top of this page to enter the competition. Entries should be submitted before close of business on Wednesday 2 April 2024. All teachers must provide a direct email address (preferably your departmental address for government school teachers) to assist with our organisation.

How much does entry cost?

The entry fee for the award is $30.00 per government school student and $60.00 (including GST) per non-government school student. Government schools will automatically be debited for this amount once the local finals are complete (please advise your school’s finance department that this will occur). Non-government schools will be invoiced after the local finals are completed. Please note that fees are due on entry and cannot be refunded even where students might subsequently withdraw.

What are the speaking requirements?

At each stage of the competition students present both a prepared speech and an impromptu speech. The prepared speech can be on any subject chosen by the contestant. The speaking time for the prepared speech is 5 minutes with a warning bell at 4 minutes, two bells at 5 minutes and a continuous bell at 6 minutes. There are no restrictions on the subject matter for the prepared speech, so speakers can choose any issue that they care about. The impromptu speech is on a subject chosen by the adjudicator. Contestants receive 5 minutes of preparation time to write their impromptu speech. The speaking time for the impromptu speech is 2 minutes with a warning bell at 1 ½ minutes, two bells at 2 minutes, and a continuous bell at 2 ½ minutes.

Additional support for students

The Junior Secondary Speaking Award is an inclusive competition. If for whatever reason your students will require support to enable them to participate, please contact the Speaking Competitions Officer so that we can assist.

What are the rules of the competition?

Other than the eligibility criteria and speaking times detailed above, it should also be noted that contestants are not allowed to use any props or external aids such as Powerpoint presentations during their speeches. They are encouraged to speak from palm cards and must present without the use of a lectern or microphone. In the impromptu section, all contestants in a final will receive the same impromptu topic. Finally, note that speakers are expected to finish at or just beyond the official speaking time. It will be considered poor timing to reach the continuous bell.

What are the adjudicators looking for?

The adjudicators will make their decision based on the matter, manner and method the contestants employ in presenting their speeches. They will expect contestants to be confident and engaging speakers. The speeches themselves should be developed logically to a convincing conclusion in the time allowed. The adjudicators will in particular be looking for knowledge of the subject matter, skilful development of the theme and the effective use of plain English. Successful contestants are also expected to demonstrate a balance of personal opinion and information in their speeches, as well as a balance of humour and sincerity. Finally, adjudicators will give equal consideration to the prepared and impromptu speeches in making their decision.

How does the competition run?

Schools may need to conduct their own internal competition to select two representatives for the Junior Secondary Speaking Award. During Term 2 the Speaking Competitions Officer will advise all contestants of the date and venue of their local final which will be held between Tuesday 23 July and Friday 9 August (Weeks 1 to 3 of Term 3). The winners of all local finals across the state will proceed to regional finals which will be held at or hosted online at The Arts Unit, Lewisham from Monday 2 to Monday 9 September (Weeks 7 and 8 of Term 3). Eight regional winners will proceed to the state final which which will be held at NSW Parliament House on Monday 21 October 2024.

What are the prizes?

The NSW winner will receive a medallion and a prize from our sponsors, and the NSW winner’s school will receive a perpetual trophy. State finalists will receive a medallion and prize packs provided by our sponsors. All students involved in the competition will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation. Certificates of congratulations will be awarded to all local and regional winners.

The 2024 Junior Secondary Speaking Award is proudly supported by ACCO Brands Australia.

All Arts Unit programs are inclusive. If support is required to participate in the Junior Secondary Speaking Award, please email Justine.clarke@det.nsw.edu.au so that we can assist.