Legacy Junior Public Speaking Awards

Secondary students aged 14 or younger

Successful speakers progress through local, regional and state rounds where they deliver both prepared and impromptu speeches, with the state champion and runner-up both representing NSW at a national final.

student speaking

Latest news

The 2023 state final is in the books and Matilda Webb, representing Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, has been named this year's champion for NSW. It was a cracking morning of speeches hosted at the Art Gallery of NSW, and we'll have a video of the all the action available on this page shortly so you can see them all for yourselves. Congratulations to Matilda, the other 7 speakers, and all the teachers and schools who helped them get to this final!

Cambridge Park High School
Fort Street High School
The King's School
Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta
Prairiewood High School
Presbyterian Ladies' College
St Luke's Grammar School
Terrigal High School

If you're thinking about competing in 2024 you can find all the information on how things run below. Please note that you can also access all this information as a PDF by downloading the 2023 Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award information guide (PDF, 470.67 KB).

Competition information

The Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award aims to encourage the use of clear and effective spoken English. Since its inception in 1995, the competition has provided an opportunity for NSW junior secondary students to improve their confidence and to develop their speech-writing and public speaking skills. This year we hope to return to face-to-face local and regional finals with some online options available to accommodate all of our speakers across the state.

What are the prizes?

The NSW winner will receive a medallion and cash prize, and the NSW winner’s school will receive a perpetual trophy. State finalists will receive a medallion and a cash prize. All students involved in the competition will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation. Certificates of congratulations will be awarded to all local and regional winners.

Who is eligible to compete?

The Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award is open to NSW government and non-government secondary schools. Each school can enter a maximum of two contestants. Contestants must be either Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia. Contestants must have been 14 years of age or younger on 1 January 2023.

Additional support for students

The Plain English Speaking Award is an inclusive competition. If for whatever reason your students will require support to enable them to participate, please contact the Speaking Competitions Officer so that we can assist.

How do schools enter the competition?

You can enter the competition using the red button above. Entries should be submitted before close of business on Monday 3 April. All teachers must provide a direct email address (preferably your departmental address for government school teachers) to assist with organisation.

How much does entry cost?

The entry fee for the award is $28.00 per government school student and $56.00 (including GST) per non-government school student. Government schools will automatically be debited for this amount once they submit their entry form (please advise your school’s finance department that this will occur). Non-government schools will be invoiced after their entries have been received. Please note that fees are due on entry and cannot be refunded even where students subsequently withdraw.

What are the speaking requirements?

At each stage of the competition students present both a prepared speech and an impromptu speech. The speaking time for the prepared speech is 5 minutes with a warning bell at 4 minutes, two bells at 5 minutes and a continuous bell at 6 minutes. There are no restrictions on the subject matter for the prepared speech, so speakers can choose an issue that they care about. The impromptu speech is on a subject chosen by the adjudicator. Contestants receive 5 minutes of preparation time to write their impromptu speech. The speaking time for the impromptu speech is 2 minutes with a warning bell at 1.5 minutes, two bells at 2 minutes, and a continuous bell at 3 minutes.

What are the rules of the competition?

Other than the eligibility criteria and speaking times detailed above, it should also be noted that contestants are not allowed to use any props or external aids such as Powerpoint presentations during their speeches. They are encouraged to speak from palm cards and must present without the use of a lectern or microphone. In the impromptu section, all contestants in a final will receive the same impromptu topic. Finally, note that speakers are expected to finish at or just beyond the official speaking time. It will be considered poor timing to reach the continuous bell.

What are the adjudicators looking for?

The adjudicators will make their decision based on the matter, manner and method the contestants employ in presenting their speeches. They will expect contestants to be confident and engaging speakers. The speeches themselves should be developed logically to a convincing conclusion in the time allowed. The adjudicators will in particular be looking for knowledge of the subject matter, skilful development of the theme and the effective use of plain English. Successful contestants are also expected to demonstrate a balance of personal opinion and information in their speeches, as well as a balance of humour and sincerity. Finally, adjudicators will give equal consideration to the prepared and impromptu speeches in making their decision.

How does the competition run?

Schools may need to conduct their own internal competition to select two representatives for the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award. During Term 2 the Speaking Competitions Officer will advise all contestants of the date and venue of their local final which will be held in the first 3 weeks of Term 3. Every effort will be made to hold face-to face local finals with online finals facilitated if necessary. The winners of all local finals across the state will proceed to regional finals which will be held at the Arts Unit, Lewisham, or hosted online, in August. Regional winners will proceed to the state semi-finals which will be held at NSW Parliament House in September. Four contestants from each semi-final will then be chosen to proceed to the state final at the Art Gallery of NSW in October. The national final will be held in November.


Public Speaking entry assistance
(Please email if you experience any problems entering the competitions)
02 8512 1171
Justine Clarke
Speaking Competitions Officer
The Arts Unit
02 8512 1172