Optimist International Oratorical Contest

Topic for the 2018-19 school year is: “Is There a Fine Line Between Optimism and Reality?”

Who: Youth under the age of 19 as of October 1, 2018 (and is not enrolled as a degree seeking student of a post-secondary institution) in the United States, Canada or the Caribbean. 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.

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

Clubs and Districts
The District deadline to submit winners to Optimist International is May 15, 2019. Optimist International does not set Club/Zone/Regional deadlines.


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 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.

Information for Optimist Members planning the contest:

District Oratorical Planning Guide

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 level

Certificate for District Regional 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. Please note that the .doc version enables users to type their information into fields*, while the .pdf files are for viewing only.

Oratorical Contest - Prior to event (.docx)

Oratorical Contest - After event (.docx)

District Oratorical One Winner - After event (.docx)

2018-19 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.


Oratorical Contest Quick Links

Optimist Oratorical World Championships

Club Planning Guide

District Planning Guide

Kids Speak Out


First Place: South Carolina – Caleb Smith
Loading the player ...


Second Place: Pacific Southeast – Dominique Ruedaflores
Loading the player ...


Third Place: Kansas - Christopher Burrell
Loading the player ...