High School Public Speaking Festival

For more than five decades high school students have participated in what has become a premier national event on the South African cultural calendar.

The 59th annual public speaking festival took place this year in February and March. While it is a team event there were team and individual speaker awards. 

HSPSF Results and Rankings

Team structure and format

Four-speaker versus three-speaker teams

Ideally, teams in the open event should consist of four speakers and competitive teams must consist of three speakers. If only three speakers in a grade are willing to speak in the open event, a three-member team is permissible. In this instance, the three-member team must:

  • Speak for the full fifteen minute allocation
  • With the chair playing the conventional chair’s role and delivering a full speech

Unifying role of the chair

Once he or she has introduced the team, the chair elaborates briefly on how the team will address the topic. It is the chair’s role to link each of the speakers and to integrate the team’s speeches. The chair is also responsible for demonstrating to the audience the logical connection between the viewpoints or aspects presented by each team member. Essentially, the chair synthesises the team’s message and brings together the various separate speeches into one coherent message. Finally, the chair concludes the team’s core message.

Individual responsibility, team effort

Each speaker presents a different aspect of the topic or elaborates on another part of the topic. Speakers should develop the problem or issue in some way and add to the depth and interest of the message in a balanced and cohesive fashion. Three independent or insular speeches will not convey a united or cohesive message to the audience.

Team seating

The chair sits in the first seat to the right of the team and the speakers sit in their order of speaking.

Speech delivery

When team members stand up to deliver a speech they are required to stand in front of their own seat or to take no more than one or two steps forward. A speaker should always be careful not to mask other speakers.

Before the session

Before the session each team is required to complete and hand to the master of ceremonies an information card.

Speaking not performing

Speakers are required to speak, not perform dramatically. Songs, choral verse and other gimmicks are not permitted.

Need assistance with speech preparation and delivery?

Whether you are a speaker or a teacher in charge of public speaking we can provide assistance with regard to the skills required for preparing and delivering speeches. SDCSA offers training workshops specifically designed to help in this regard.


Open section

Teachers must make certain that the correct topics for juniors (grades 7, 8 and 9) and seniors (grades 10, 11 and 12) respectively are given to the appropriate grades. Proof of source material must be supplied to the adjudicator. Topics will be available on the website from October 2017.

Competitive section

We recommend that experienced speakers participate in this section. Topics for the SDCSA Trophy Team and Guild Trophy Individual Speaker are own choice.