Humorous Speech is 5 to 7 minutes in length. Humorous speaking, which must be substantially original. Any quoted material must be identified during the presentation.

The speech must be a thematic in nature (opening, body, and close) and not be an act or a monologue. It should be “clean” humor; avoid objectionable language, anecdotes, and material. Vocal variety, gestures, and speech content all play a part in a successful humorous speech.

Typically, clubs begin holding their contest in July. Area contests are held in August with the Division Contest in September. The District 58 Contest will be held at the Fall Conference in October.

Judging Criteria

Content (55%)

Speech Development is the way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. The speech is structured around a purpose, and this structure must include an opening, body, and conclusion. A good speech immediately engages the audience’s attention and then moves forward toward a significant conclusion. This development of the speech structure is supported by relevant examples, illustrations, facts, and figures, delivered with such smoothness that they blend into the framework of the speech to present the audience with a unified whole.

Effectiveness is measured in part by the audience’s reception of the speech, but a large part is your subjective judgement of how the speech came across. You should ask yourself such questions as

  • “Was I able to determine the speaker’s purpose?”
  • “Did the speech relate directly to that purpose?”
  • “Was the audience’s interest held by the speaker?”
  • “Was this speech subject appropriate for this particular audience?”

Speech Value justifies the act of speaking. The speaker has a responsibility to say something meaningful and original to the audience. The listeners should feel the speaker has made a contribution to their thinking. The ideas should be important ones, although this does not preclude a humorous presentation of them.

Audience Response indicates the level to which the speaker has affected the emotions and response of the audience. An increasing level of interest may be indicated by reduced audience movement, greater eye contact and laughter at appropriate cues.

Delivery (30%)

Physical presentation of a speech carries part of the responsibility for effective communication. The speaker’s appearance should reinforce the speech, whether profound, sad, humorous, or instructional. Body language should support points through gestures, expressions, and body positioning.

Voice is the sound that carries the message. It should be flexible, moving from one pitch level to another for emphasis, and should have a variety of rate and volume. A good voice can be clearly heard and the words easily understood.

Manner is the indirect revelation of the speaker’s real self as the speech is delivered. The speaker should speak with enthusiasm and assurance, showing interest in the audience and confidence in their reactions.

Language (15%)

Appropriateness of language refers to the choice of words that relate to the speech purpose and to the particular audience hearing the speech. Language should promote clear understanding of thoughts and should fit the occasion precisely.

Correctness of language ensures that attention will be directed toward what the speaker says, not how it is said. Proper use of grammar and correct pronunciation will show that the speaker is the master of the words being used.