The topic for the 2023-2024 School Year: “How to Change the World with Optimism”

The Optimist Oratorical Contest gives youngsters the chance to speak to the world. It is designed to assist youth in gaining public speaking experience and provide them with an opportunity to compete for a college scholarship. More than $150,000 in college scholarships are awarded annually from this program funded by the Optimist International Foundation.

Oratorical Contest Rules

The deadline for submitting speech at the club level is February 1, 2024. The deadline for the clubs to submit their winning speech for the zone level competition is February 28, 2024.

The Oratorical Contest is open to students under 19 as of October 1, 2023, and who are educated in the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean. Students are required to prepare a 4- to 5-minute speech on the pre-assigned topic. Download the entry form here.

For more information contact:

Nick Scelsa
Optimist Club, Sacramento
“Oratorical Contest” 2022-2023, Chairman
(916) 996-1464

Form and Rules for the Contest

Visit this page to see past contest winners and hear a winning speech!

History of the Optimist Oratorical Contest
First conducted in 1928, this is the second most popular Optimist International Program. Nearly 2,000 clubs participate in this program each year. The winners at the Club level receive medallions and Zone winners receive a plaque. Districts have the opportunity to provide two $2,500 scholarships or a first place scholarship of $2,500, a second place scholarship of $1,500, and a third place scholarship of $1,000.

A look at a winning Oratorical Contest speech

Topic: “What the World Gains from Optimism”

Riley Burke from McClatchy High School. 2017 Oratorical Contest: Club Winner, Zone Winner, and Regional Winner!

Listen to Riley’s winning speech!