Optimist International Oratorical Contest

2024 Optimist International Oratorical World Championships

July 18-19, 2024
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, Missouri, USA

2024 World Championship Schedule

2024 Housing Option

Topic for the 2023-2024 school year is: “How to Change the World with Optimism”

Who: The contest is open to contestants under the age of 19 as of October 1st of the current Optimist International contest year (October 1 – September 30) and who have not yet completed secondary school or its equivalent, including CEGEP students in Québec, Canada. There is no minimum age.

How To Enter: Interested students submit a speech on the pre-assigned topic to their local Optimist Club. To find out the contact in your area, please e-mail the Programs Department at programs@optimist.org.

The deadline to enter is determined by the sponsoring Optimist Club. All Club-level contests are typically held by late March.

Clubs and Districts
Districts and Clubs may opt to hold an online Oratorical Contest. Click here for more information.

The Optimist Oratorical Contest gives youngsters the chance to speak to the world. More than $150,000 in college scholarships funded by the Optimist International Foundations is awarded annually from this program.

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 a first place scholarship of $2,500, a second place scholarship of $1,500, and a third place scholarship of $1,000.

Information for Optimist Members planning the contest:

Club Oratorical Planning Guide

District Oratorical Planning Guide

Guidelines for Oratorical Contest Participants

Oratorical Contest Package - A Program Package for the contest is available by clicking here. Clubs can find useful materials to help them get started with the scholarship contest.

Support merchandise for this program can be ordered through Shumsky for US and Caribbean Clubs and from Ansell's Awards and Specialties for Canadian Clubs. Contact information for both supply companies can be found here.

For additional information, please contact the Optimist International Programs Department by e-mail at programs@optimist.org, or call (800) 500-8130.

Certificates of Participation
If your Club or District is sponsoring a contest, certificates of participation can be presented to all contestants.

Certificate for Club level

Certificate for Zone level

Certificate for District Regional level

Certificate for District level

Publicize the Oratorical Contest
Optimist International has developed a series of news releases that Clubs and Districts can use in connection with their participation in international programs. Below are sample news releases that Clubs and Districts can use to promote the Oratorical Contest.

Oratorical Contest - Prior to event (.docx)

Oratorical Contest - After event (.docx)

District Oratorical One Winner - After event (.docx)

Oratorical Contest Brochure

*If your Optimist Club or District wishes to use its own letterhead, you can remove the Optimist International logo in the document by opening up the Word document, going to "View," then "Toolbars" and selecting "Forms." When the "Forms" toolbar appears, click on the padlock, then click on the Optimist logo and delete it. For those using Microsoft Office 2007, click on the Microsoft Office button in the upper left corner, go to "Word options" and then select the box next to "Show the Developer tab in the Ribbon" and click "OK." Above the document, click the "Developer" tab and then click on the "Protect Document" drop-down menu. Click on "Restrict Formatting and Editing." At the bottom of the new window to the right, click the "Stop Protection" button.

Optimist International “Kids Speak Out” Club Contests
Optimist International offers Clubs a simple but spectacular way to get younger students involved in public speaking and prepare them for higher level Oratorical competitions. These contests are not backed by dollar awards but encourage students to develop speaking skills and prepare them for future Oratorical contests. Click here for more information on the Optimist International Kids Speak Out Contest and Planning Guide.

Kids Speak Out Scoring Sheet

Oratorical Contest Quick Links

2023 Championship in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd followed by Regional Winners.

  • Sarah-Claude Simard Optimiste Francophone Canadien Winner $5,000 & 1st Place World Winner $15,000

  • Sav Jordan Middle American Regional Winner $5,000 & 2nd Place World Winner $10,000

  • Shad McMillan SouthEast Regional Winner $5,000 & 3rd Place World Winner $5,000

  • Deborah Koko Northeast & Great Lakes Regional Winner $5,000

  • Lily Breyer Great Plains Regional Winner $5,000

  • Smith Galvin Mid-Atlantic Regional Winner $5,000

  • Mary Lou Cavanna ) Southwest Regional Winner $5,000

  • Ty Whitman West Coast Regional Winner $5,000

  • Sizen Karki Global Regional Winner $5,000