Shelby County Right to Life Oratory Contest
Our oratory contest is an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to develop their skills in defending pro-life positions in the field of public speaking. It is held annually in February or March and features cash prizes to the top three finishers. The first-place winner qualifies for the state-level contest conducted by Ohio Right to Life.
Important Dates for 2023
Contest is Monday, February 20, 2023 (President's Day) 6:30-9pm at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sidney.
All high school juniors and seniors who are residents of Shelby County or attend a Shelby County high school are eligible to participate in the Shelby County Right to Life Oratory Contest.
Prizes are $400+ for 1st place, $250 for 2nd and $100 for 3rd place. The winner will receive an additional $100 if able to participate in the state contest (Saturday May 14, in Columbus). The state-level winner continues to the national competition (June 25) in Atlanta, GA.
Contact for Registration or Questions
Helpful Tips and Guidelines
- A 5-7 minute talk is usually approximately 800-1200 words, depending on the speed and style of the orator.
- Your speech should be prepared (typed) ahead of time (no ad lib) but you will not lose points for diverging slightly from the typed copy.
- Please submit 2 copies of your speech when you come to the contest; no format requirements (single spaced is fine).
- Please include word count on the typed copy of your speech.
- The speech does not need to be memorized, however, contestants who reach the state contest will be expected to have them memorized.
- There is no dress code except that you should dress modestly and we encourage dressing in a professional manner.
Rules and Judging Criteria
For Shelby County Right to Life Oratory Contest (Regional level of the National Right to Life (Jane B. Thompson) Oratory Contest)
Statement of Purpose
Along with the National Right to Life Oratory Contest, this regional contest, is intended to promote the ability of high school juniors and seniors to share their pro-life views with others. Although speaking ability is important, this contest also seeks to help teens organize and express their pro-life views. We also strive to give the contestants an opportunity to meet other pro-life teens.
- High school juniors and seniors (in that grade February 1 of the year of the national contest)
are eligible to compete. In case of advanced students, non-traditional students, or home
schooled students, the school must recognize the student as a junior or senior or the year the student will enter college will be used to determine eligibility.
- Students who have competed in their junior year may compete the following year as seniors
(with an entirely new speech) except if the student has won first place in the national
contest. Second place winners may compete again.
- Contestants are to research, write, and present an original pro-life speech on abortion,
infanticide, euthanasia or stem cell research. The speech should address one of these topics directly.
- The speech is to be 5 – 7 minutes in length. A contestant will be disqualified if the speech is
timed to be under 4 minutes or over 8 minutes in length. Judges are instructed to use their
judgment regarding under or over time limit speeches. It is at the judges’ discretion how the
4-5 minute and the 7-8 minute speech will reflect in the score.
- Appropriate gestures are allowed. Props are not allowed.
- Speech content may not be significantly changed as a contestant advances. Fine-tuning for
minor corrections or to adjust time is allowed and encouraged. A written copy of the
winning contestant’s speech must be forwarded to the contest coordinators at the next level (state).
- The contestant should use up-to-date factual information.
- The style should be appropriate to the message of the speech. A dramatic presentation is not acceptable. A dramatic presentation is considered anything that is read or preformed that has been previously written by another author; a short story, a poem, etc. Although quotes to support a position or statement are appropriate, they may not dominate the speech, and should be appropriately citied. Dramatic presentations are also defined, for the purposes of this contest, to include acting as a thing or another person, such as acting out the life of an unborn baby. This rule is not to be interpreted to rule out the use of emotion.
- There will be 3 judges and a time keeper. The judges’ background and qualifications differ; although all are pro-life, the speech should appeal to a broad audience.
- No copyrighted speeches shall be used in the contest.
- Contestants may use notes.
- Contestants are welcome to, but not required to use a podium.
- Microphones will not be used.
- There will be slight differences in scoring for the regional contest compared to the state and national contests, but the regional format will not negatively affect a contestant advancing to the higher levels. See Judge's Ballot for judging criteria.
- The judges’ decision will be final. All efforts are made for accuracy. In the event of a mistake, every effort will be made to
- Ties will be handled by the Contest Director. Any other concerns or issues shall be dealt with by the Contest Director. The decision of the Contest Director concerning the application of these rules or the contest will be final.
- These rules apply only to the Shelby County Right to Life regional oratory contest. Rules for the state and national contests differ only slightly, but can be found here.