This is a beginner’s guide to running the Club Speech contests. It is not intended to cover every detail. There are Contest FAQs on this website as well as a Checklist of things to do for the contest, as well as more information on the Toastmasters International site.
The club VPE is usually the person who organises the contest, but this doesn’t mean they have to organise every part of it. The VPE can get other members to help them.
One person might arrange the catering. Another might arrange judges. Another might arrange all the printing of forms. This way the workload is shared, and made easier for all.
Set a Date
There are 4 contests in total:
- Table Topics
Often, two of these contests are held on one night, and then the other two on another night some weeks later. Normally it would be Humorous and Table Topics on one night, and then International and Evaluation on the other.
If there are not many contestants in each contest e.g. only 2 or 3, it might be possible to hold all four contests on one night.
Alternatively, all four contests can be held on a single day e.g. a Saturday or Sunday, although this is more usual for area and division contests.
There are normally eight judges. There is a Chief Judge, a Tie Breaker Judge and Voting Judges.
The best guide to the role of judges is the Contest Rule book. This is updated every year, and can be downloaded from Toastmasters International.
The Chief Judge doesn’t vote. The Chief Judge is known to the audience but all the other judges are anonymous. The Tie Breaker Judge’s vote is only counted when it’s necessary to break a tie.
Regular club members can be judges at club level contests, and this is encouraged. People who are taking on judging for the first time need to be taught how to judge. More experienced members should explain the judging ballots and the rules some weeks prior to the contests.
It’s usual for the judges to receive a small gift (value $10 usually). These are given to them discreetly so they remain anonymous.
BTW – the Notification of Winner form for each contest is filled in by the Chief Judge, and is then later given to the Area Director. This is quite important, because the next person in line needs to be notified if a winning contestant can’t attend the next level of contest.
A Test Speaker is required for the Evaluation Contest. It is usual to get a person who is at speech 5 or 6 in the Competent Communicator manual. It needs to be a speaker who is unknown at your club, and hasn’t been previously heard by the contestants.
Note: the Test Speaker is anonymous, and their name doesn’t appear on the agenda.
Roles to Fill
You will need a Contest Chair for each contest, 2 x Timers, 2 x Ballot Counters and 2 x Ushers (ushers are essential for the Table Topics and Evaluation contests, but not the other contests).
The Contest Chair role is a good project to have signed off as Project 8 in the Competent Leader manual (if the member is following the old education system).
There are contest chair templates available for download on this website. If someone has not been contest chair before, it’s best to get someone to go through the script with them.
There is also a speech contest template available on this website. It can be adjusted according to the user’s needs.
There are a number of forms that need to be completed for each contest and they are:
- Judges voting forms (x number of judges)
- Tie breaker judge form (x 1)
- Judges eligibility form (x number of judges)
- Notification of Winner (x number of contests i.e. 1 per contest)
- Counters Tally Form (x number of contests)
- Timers Report (x number of contests)
- Contest Rule Book (x number of judges)
- Evaluation form (x number of contestants, but as this is essentially a blank form anyway so each contestant are allowed a number of copies)
- Contestants Eligibility Form (x number of contestants)
- Participation Certificates (x number of contestants)
- First, Second and Third Place getter forms (i.e. 1 of each per contest)
These documents are available in digital form from Toastmasters International at this address – https://www.toastmasters.org/Shop/Contests/Speech-Contest-Kits
Click on each Kit that you want and scroll right to the bottom of the information and the digital downloads are there. (Yes, it’s an enormous waste of paper, but that’s how it is.)
Supper – As the contest meetings are a bit special, it’s usual to have a better supper at these events. It’s possible to ask a few people to contribute to the supper on that night. It could be organised by one person but whoever does this job needs to be reimbursed from club funds. The executive needs to set a budget for the supper.
Trophies – Clubs normally give the first place getters a small trophy.
Here is an example of the engraving –
Happy Valley Toastmasters Club