Using selections from Prose, Poetry, and Drama, students create a ten-minute performance around a central theme. Program Oral Interpretation (POI) is designed to test a student’s ability to inter-splice multiple types of literature into a single, cohesive performance. A manuscript is required and may be used as a prop within the performance if the performer maintains control of the manuscript at all times. Performances can also include an introduction written by the student to contextualize the performance and state the title and the author of each selection.
HOW DO I KNOW I’M USING NSDA APPROVED LITERATURE? The NSDA Unified Manual can be found at http://www.speechanddebate.org, and it includes rules for all events. A general rule of thumb is that all pieces must be published and accessible by the public. Remember, just because you can find it on the internet (especially YouTube!) doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for use in round! If you (and your coach) have read the rules in the manual and still are uncertain, your coach should email the NSDA at firstname.lastname@example.org, and include information about the piece you’d like to perform. Usually, you’ll receive an email answer in one to two days.
HOW DO I STRUCTURE MY PROGRAM? Follow Dramatic Structure – • Exposition (Teaser) – Introduce characters, settings, and topic/argument • Inciting Incident (End of Teaser) – Introduce conflict or issue • Introduction • Rising Action – Where the conflict/issue grows • Climax (at about 8 minutes) – The high point of the conflict or issue *choose this first!* • Falling Action – Possible solutions to topic; resolution of characters
HOW DO I WRITE AN INTRO? Consider Including the Following – • Observation – Quotation, statistic, fact, idea • Explanation – How does your observation relate to your piece? • Application – Apply your observation to thesis / argument • Titles / Authors – List all (by genre) • Affirmation – End with something memorable
WHERE CAN I FIND VIDEOS OF POI? All members can access the 2016 final round recording on the NSDA website. Members who have the Resource Package can also access the 2017 final round recording. Other students have chosen to upload videos of their own performances to platforms such as YouTube, but those performances are of varying quality and appropriateness.
Please note – POI is an event that is also popular in college-level forensics. As you come across videos of college competitors’ performances, please keep in mind that some of the rules that govern collegiate speech are different from the rules for NSDA competitors. Always check with your coach before including a piece in your program.
2. Original Oratory: Rules
This contest shall comprise only memorized orations actually composed by the contestants and not used in any previous contest year. No visual aids are permitted.
Subject –Any appropriate subject may be used, but the orator must be truthful. Any non-factual reference, especially a personal one, must be so identified. A student may not reuse the same speech topic from any competition in a previous academic year.
Length – Delivery shall require not more than 10 minutes. Judges should provide time signals at 9:00 and at 9:30. A contestant who exceeds this time limit by more than :30 seconds is not eligible for a first place rank.
Quotation – Not more than 150 words of the oration may be direct quotation from any other speech or writing and such quotations shall be identified in a printed copy of the oration supplied prior to registration. Extensive paraphrasing from other sources is prohibited.
Script – The Tournament Director must receive a copy of the orator’s script by Friday, June 3, 2011, e-mailed from the same address as the head coach who registered – to: email@example.com. The script should identify the quoted materials, state the number of quoted words, and by virtue of submitting the script, the orator and the coach attest that the oration is the original work of the contestant.
Judging Original Oratory
Since orations have been written by the contestants delivering them, the judges should consider thought, composition, and delivery. However, since this is a contest in speech rather than in essay writing, the emphasis should be placed on the speech phase. Thought and composition should be considered primarily in the way they are employed to make effective speaking possible.
The orator should not be expected to solve any of the great problems of the day. Rather, s/he should be expected to discuss intelligently, with a degree of originality, in an interesting manner, and with some profit to his/her audience the topic s/he has chosen. Any appropriate subject may be chosen but the orator must be truthful. Any non-factual reference, especially a personal one, MUST be so identified.
Although many orations deal with a current problem and propose a solution, the judge is expressly reminded that this is not the only acceptable form of oratory. The oration may simply alert the audience to a threatening danger, strengthen its devotion to an accepted cause, or eulogize a person. The orator should be given free choice of subject and judged solely on the effectiveness of its development and presentation.
The composition should be considered carefully for its rhetoric and diction. The use of appropriate figures of speech, similes and metaphors, balanced sentences, allusions, and other rhetorical devices to make the oration more effective should be noted especially. Use of American English should be more than correct; it should reveal a discriminating choice of words and altogether fine literary qualities. It should be especially adapted to oral presentation.
Delivery should be judged for mastery of the usual mechanics of speech — poise, quality and use of voice, bodily expressiveness, and for the qualities of directness and sincerity which impress the oration upon the minds of the audience.
An orator should not be penalized for a few seconds overtime but if the speaker exceeds the maximum speaking time by more than :30 seconds, s/he is not eligible to receive a 1st place ranking.
No particular style of delivery is to be set up as the one correct style to which all contestants must conform. Rather, each contestant is to be judged upon the effectiveness of his/her delivery, free to choose or develop whatever style will best give him/her that effectiveness with his/her particular oration. No visual aids are permitted.
3. Impromptu Speaking: Rules
Topics – Impromptu topics will include proverbs, abstract words, events, quotations, and famous people.
Drawing – Each section/room shall be provided with an envelope containing topics. Once the first speaker is called, the other speakers shall leave the room, and wait outside the door. Each speaker will draw three topics, choose one, and return the other two. The speaker then has eight minutes in which to prepare a response and speak. The same list of topics shall be used for the drawing by each section. A different subject area will be used for each round.
As soon as a topic is chosen, the contestant shall withdraw and prepare a speech without consultation and without references to prepared notes. Students may consult published books, magazines, newspapers, and journals or articles, provided:
• They are originals or Xeroxed copies of originals.
• That original article or copy is intact and uncut.
• There is no written material on original or copy.
• Topical index without annotation is allowed.
No other material shall be allowed in the impromptu prep room other than stated above. Speeches, handbooks, briefs, and outlines shall be barred from the prep room. Underlining or highlighting in materials will be allowed if done in one color on each article or copy. No electrical retrieval device may be used, but printed materials from “online” computer services may be used.
Recusal – A student may not leave the impromptu prep room without permission of the proctor.
Notes – Speakers may use one index card per round, up to 4-inches by 6-inches. These cards may only be written on in the preparation area.
Time – There is no minimum qualifying time, but the contestant must cover the subject adequately. Maximum time for preparation and speaking is 8 minutes. Judges should provide time signals at 7:
Judging Impromptu Speaking
The Impromptu speech should be regarded as an original interpretation by the speaker of the designated topic as supported by varied materials and gives a contestant opportunity to be creative and imaginative. An impromptu speech should reveal the student’s ability to organize his thoughts in a logical manner.
The contestant should be held accountable for strict adherence to the topic drawn and discounted severely for shifting to some other topic on which s/he might prefer to speak. The information presented should be well-chosen, pertinent, and sufficient to support the central thought of the topic.
The material should be organized according to some logical plan to produce a complete speech within the time allowed. Delivery should be free from marked defects in the mechanics of speech — poise, quality and use of voice, enunciation, fluency, bodily expressiveness — and should be effective in enlisting and holding the interest of the audience. The best impromptu speech combines clear thinking, good speaking, and interesting presentation with respect to the subject chosen. Notes are not permitted.
There is NO minimum qualifying time. Do not penalize for brevity unless s/he fails to cover his/her subject adequately. Maximum time for both preparation and speaking is 8 minutes.
4. Extemporaneous Speaking: Rules
Topics will cover United States domestic policy, United States foreign policy, and the foreign policies of foreign nations. The tournament director will obtain a list of questions aimed for middle level ages and phrased for contest use, based on subjects discussed in standard periodicals during the current school year.
Thirty minutes before the round is to begin, the first speaker shall draw three questions, choose one, and return the other two. Other contestants shall draw in like manner, in the order of speaking, at intervals of seven minutes.
As soon as a question is chosen, the contestant shall withdraw and prepare a speech without consultation and without references to prepared notes. Students may consult published books, magazines, newspapers, and journals or articles, provided:
• They are originals or Xeroxed copies of originals.
• Original articles or copies must be intact & uncut.
• There is no written material on original or copies.
• Topical index without annotation is allowed.
No other material shall be allowed in the extemp prep room other than stated above. Extemp speeches, handbooks, briefs, and outlines shall be barred from the extemp prep room. Underlining or highlighting on materials will be allowed if done in only one color on each article or copy. Source citations of such materials must meet MLA standards.
A contestant may not leave the prep area without first checking out with the proctor. A student leaving without permission will be ranked last in that round.
Time: Contestants shall speak no more than seven minutes. No minimum time is mandated. Judges should provide time signals at 6:00 and 6:30. A contestant who exceeds this time limit by more than :30 seconds is not eligible for a first place rank. Speakers may use one index card per round, up to 4-inches by 6-inches. These cards may only be written on in the preparation area.
Judging Extemporaneous Speaking
The extemporaneous speech should not be regarded as a memory test of the material contained in any one magazine article, but rather as an original synthesis by the speaker of the current fact and opinion on the designated topic as presented by numerous sources.
The contestant therefore should be held accountable for strict adherence to the precise statement of the topic drawn and discounted severely for shifting to some other phase of the topic on which s/he might prefer to speak.
The information presented should be well-chosen, pertinent, and sufficient to support the central thought of the topic.
The material should be organized according to some logical plan to produce a complete speech within the time allowed. Delivery should be free from marked defects in the mechanics of speech — poise, quality and use of voice, enunciation, fluency, bodily expressiveness — and should be effective in enlisting and holding the interest of the audience.
The best extemporaneous speech combines clear thinking, good speaking, and interesting presentation to establish a definite thought with respect to the subject chosen. Do not require a contestant speaking on a controversial subject to take a personal stand on that issue. S/he may do so, or s/he may elect to present both sides of the controversy as currently set forth in the his/her own plan.
There is NO minimum qualifying time for the extemp speech. Do not penalize a contestant for brevity unless s/he fails to cover adequately the subject s/he has chosen.
Maximum time is seven minutes. Impose no penalty for slight overtime, but if the speaker exceeds the maximum speaking time by more than :30 seconds, S/He is not eligible to receive a 1st place ranking.
5. Literary Interpretation: Rules
Dramatic, Duo, Humorous, Poetry, and Prose Interpretation Selections – Selections used in these contests shall be cuttings from published, printed novels, short stories, plays or poetry. A cutting must be from a single work of literature: one story, or one play, or one novel (this rule is exempt for Poetry Interpretation). No school publications or recorded material that is not printed and published is acceptable.
Adaptations may be made for the purpose of transition. A cross-entered student may not draw literature from the same source for different interpretation events. A student may not reuse material presented at any competition from a previous academic year. Monologues or dialogues are acceptable in Dramatic and/or Humorous Interpretation.
Adaptations of television skits or other non-published material are prohibited. In duo interpretation, each of the two performers may play one or more characters, so long as performance responsibility in the cutting remains as balanced as possible. (If the selection is prose or poetry and contains narration, either or both of the performers may present the narration.)
Focus – Use of focal points and/or direct contact with the audience should be determined by the requirements of the literature being interpreted. In Duo Interpretation, focus may be direct during the introduction and the performers may look at each other but must be indirect (off-stage) during the performance itself.
The contestant should give an introduction that names the author(s) and the book or magazine from which the cutting was made. This may be done after a “teaser,” or short excerpt of performance.
Poetry is writing which expresses ideas, experience, or emotion through the creative arrangement of words according to their sound, their rhythm, their meaning. Poetry may rely on verse and stanza form. During the presentation the contestant must name the author and the book or magazine from which the cutting was made. No plays or other dramatic materials may be used. Material may be drawn from multiple printed, published works.
Prose expresses thought through language recorded in sentences and paragraphs: fiction (short stories, novels) and nonfiction (articles, essays, journals, biographies). During the presentation the contestant must name the author and the book or magazine from which the cutting was made. No plays or other dramatic materials may be used.
Presentation & Time – DI, HI, DUO
Each selection is presented as a memorized selection without the use of physical objects, script, or costume. Presentation shall not exceed 10 minutes. Judges should provide time signals at 9:00 and at 9:30. A contestant who exceeds this time limit by more than 30 seconds is not eligible for a first place rank.
Presentation & Time – Poetry, Prose
Presentations shall not last more than 7:00 minutes. Judges should provide time signals at 6:00 and at 6:30. A contestant who exceeds this time limit by more than :30 seconds is not eligible for a first place rank. Performances must be from a manuscript (which may be in a binder/portfolio). Reading from a book or magazine is not permitted. Excessive movement below the waist (i.e., walking) is discouraged; the emphasis on interpreting poetic and prose scripts is on vocal delivery and suggestive gestures, rather than acting movements.
Judging Literary Interpretation
The art of interpretation is to be regarded as recreating the characters in a story presented and making them seem living and real to the audience. Presentation shall be from memory and without the use of physical objects or costume.
A selection for interpretation must be a cutting from a single literary work: one novel, or one short story, or one play, or one or more poems. Monologues are acceptable. During the presentation, the contestant(s) must name the author and the book or magazine from which the cutting was made. In Duo Interpretation each of the two performers may play one or more characters, so long as performance responsibility in the cutting remains as balanced as possible. [If the selection is prose or poetry and contains narration, either or both of the performers may present the narration.]
Adaptation may be for the purpose of transition. The selection should be judged for its appropriateness as contest material and its suitability to the particular contestant using it. The use of good literature should be noted favorably and a selection devoid of literary merit graded lowest.
This is a contest in interpretation. The contestants should be evaluated on poise, quality and use of voice, inflections, emphasis, pronunciation, enunciation, physical expression, and especially the ability to as to be an interesting and integral part of the story rather than just “filler” between portions of dialogue. A speaker that exceeds the maximum speaking time for the event by more than :30 seconds is not eligible to receive a 1st place ranking.
The final test of good interpretation is the ability to use all these factors so successfully and unobtrusively that the hearer forgets that this is a contest and in a created atmosphere is carried away to the time and place of the story being unfolded.
Scripted Events (Poetry & Prose)
Poetry is writing which expresses ideas, experience, or emotion through the creative arrangement of words according to their sound, their rhythm, and their meaning. The more traditional poetry generally has a somewhat regular rhythm, often with a definite, sometimes repeated rhyme scheme. Nontraditional poetry may do away with regular rhythm and rhyme, but rhythmic flow of the individual line remains an integral part of the structure. Unlike prose, which consists of sentences structured into paragraphs, poetry relies on verse and stanza form. Selections from plays (dramas) may not be read in this contest.
Prose is writing which corresponds to usual (ordinary, common) patterns of speech. Unlike poetry, which emphasizes emotions and/or ideas expressed through figurative language recorded in verse and stanza, prose expresses thought through language recorded in sentences and paragraphs. Prose includes fiction (short stories, novels) and nonfiction (articles, essays, journal entries, biographies). Cuttings from plays (dramas) may not be read in this contest.
The contestant will have prepared a presentation which will not last more than seven minutes, including a required introduction which will state at least the title(s) and author(s). The presentation itself may be of an entire work, a cutting of a single longer work, or a collection of shorter works or short cuttings of longer works by one author or several authors arranged in a program. Any selection used in the performance must have been printed and published. The contestant will perform the reading (interpretation) using a manuscript (which may be in a folder). Reading from a book or magazine is not permitted. Since the contestant will be holding a manuscript, use of that manuscript should be an integral part of the performance. Responsive use of the body (i.e., spontaneous changes in posture and gesture) is permissible so long as this active use of the body is appropriate to the demands of the selection and a natural outgrowth from the literature being performed. This is a contest in interpretation and not acting.
Along with appropriate, effective physical presentation, the contestant will also be evaluated in terms of technique (breathing, tone, pitch, enunciation, phrasing, pace, etc.) and artistry (presentation of mood and imagery, vocal characterization — if required, creation of unifying effect, etc.). The final test of good interpretation is the ability to use all these factors so successfully and unobtrusively that theaudience forgets that this is a contest and in a created atmosphere is carried into the real or imagined world of the selection.
6. Storytelling: Rules and Judging
The art of storytelling is older than reading, dating back to long before printing was invented, but it is modern too. The storyteller uses vocal variation and physical movement to suggest different characters and character relationships in order to make the story come alive in the mind of the listener. The teller should create a mood wherein a spoken narrative transports the audience to the time and place of the story being recounted. A storyteller is a narrator – not an actor or actress – and although gestures, pantomime, movement, and characterization are not barred, they must be used with restraint.
Storytelling is a single published, printed story, anecdote, tale, myth or legend that must be retold without notes or props, and is appropriate content for a five year old. The retelling must be true to the original tale. The contestant may not add original material or materially change the content of the story. The presentation must be memorized, not read. No book or script may be used. The maximum time is 5 minutes, but the story may be briefer without penalty. A contestant who exceeds this time limit by more than :30 seconds is not eligible for a first place rank. An introduction, which creates the atmosphere/mood for the story, grasps the attention of the audience should include the title of the story, and either the author or culture from which the story comes must be included within the 5-minute time limit (but may be delivered after a brief teaser).
Movement is allowed and one chair may be used, or the speaker may stand. No other props or costumes will be allowed. The performer should present the piece to the audience as if they were very young children. Judging will be based on the student’s interpretation of the story through vocal control, facial/body expressions, use of space, and the ability to act out the story to make it come alive. The judge should rate highly the mechanics of superior speaking: fluency, vocal variety, articulation, eye contact, gesture. The storyteller may speak standing or seated. No props or visual aids may be used. “When the teller has been successful in bringing the tale to life, the telling will seem entirely natural, almost effortless.”
7. Declamation: Rules and Judging
Declamation involves a student delivering a non-original oration written by another person.
Material – The speech must have been presented as a public address and published in print. The original speaker’s words may not be altered for this presentation with the exception that cutting is permitted. A student may not reuse material presented at any competition from a previous academic year.
The presentation should include an introduction that provides the title of the speech and the author, and should include relevant information about the situation in which the speech was originally delivered. This event is an exercise in interpretation, not mimicry, so the contestant should avoid trying to reproduce the delivery style of the original speaker.
Length – Each speech is presented as a memorized selection without the use of physical objects, script, or costume. Presentation shall not exceed 10 minutes. Judges should provide time signals at 9:00 and at 9:30.
The speaker should develop the ability to convey another speaker’s message in a sincere, honest, and realistic style. The mechanics of speech must be observed faithfully: poise, quality of voice, effectiveness and ease of gesture, emphasis, variety, and enunciation. In addition, the speaker must be able to interpret the meaning of the speech and be able to carry the interpretation over to the minds off the listeners. The speaker must be able to interest the listeners and to hold their attention. No particular style should be demanded of the speaker; rather, the contestant should be free to select and to develop a personal style and be judged according to the degree of perfection attained and the effectiveness in influencing the listeners. While the specifics of the speech and any style of delivery which the speaker adopts should be judged in light of the purpose of the speech, artificiality is to be discredited. This event is an interpretation, not an impersonation.
A speaker that exceeds the maximum speaking time for the event by more than :30 seconds is not eligible to receive a 1st place ranking.
7. Exhibition Event: Rules Overview
Television (TV) Commercial
TV Commercials are for one to three people. The art of a commercial lies in the student’s ability to say a lot about the product or service in a short amount of time. The product being presented must be an original idea of the students presenting it, not something taken form another source (such as spoofs from Saturday Night Live). Props, costumes, music, and anything else necessary to try to sell the product will be allowed. Attire appropriate to the presentation may be worn. Catchy jingles or phrases are encouraged.
This event gives students an opportunity to use imagination in preparing and delivering a brief presentation. This is a simulation of a television commercial, therefore there can be no interaction between presenter(s) and audience.
Rhetorical questions, however, are allowed. The speech must be presented from memory, using notes, or extemporaneously. Each contestant may use of one 4×6 card (or smaller), but note cards are not required.
Delivery shall require 1-3 minutes. A contestant/team who exceeds this time limit by more than :30 seconds is not eligible for a first place rank.
Judging will be based on originality, persuasiveness, creativity with props and costumes, vocal/facial/body expression, and use of space by the whole team. The commercial should be done in good taste, but its tone can – and should – be creative, entertaining, and enthusiastic.
Source: NJFL Tournament Manuel 2011
- Declamation (Middle School)
- Dramatic Interpretation
- Duo Interpretation
- Humorous Interpretation
- Impromptu (Middle School)
- Informative Speaking
- International Extemporaneous Speaking
- Mixed Extemporaneous Speaking (Middle School)
- Original Oratory
- Poetry (Middle School)
- Program Oral Interpretation
- Prose (Middle School)
- Storytelling (Middle School)
- United States Extemporaneous Speaking