Speech Contest FAQ


Are contestants required to have completed a minimum number of manual speeches to participate in a speech contest?
The only speech contest with a minimum manual-speech requirement is the International Speech Contest. To participate in any level of the International Speech Contest, a member must have completed at least six speeches from Competent Communication prior to the club contest. A charter member of a club chartered after the previous July 1 may compete without having completed six speeches in Competent Communication. The club must be officially chartered before the area contest.

Who is ineligible to compete in any speech contest?
The following are ineligible to compete in any Toastmasters speech contest:

a) A member serving as a chief judge, voting judge or tiebreaking judge beyond the club level for a contest in which the member is still competing or intends to compete

b) Incumbent international officers and directors

c) Region advisors or region advisor applicants

d) District officers whose terms expire June 30:

1. District governor

2. Any lieutenant governor

3. Secretary

4. Treasurer

5. Public relations officer

6. Division governor

7. Area governor

e) International officer and director candidates

f) Immediate past district governors

g) District officers or announced candidates for elected positions for the term beginning the upcoming July 1

h) Presenters of education sessions at the event at which the contest will be held, including area, division, and district events, as well as the International Convention

What does it mean that “a member serving as a chief judge, voting judge or tiebreaking judge beyond the club level for a contest in which the member is still competing or intends to compete” is ineligible?
Beyond the club level, a member cannot judge a contest where the contest result could lead to the member competing against the contest’s winner.

Example Scenarios:
John Smith wins Area B’s Evaluation Contest. He is asked to judge Area C’s Evaluation Contest. If he judges at Area C’s Evaluation Contest, he is ineligible to continue competing in the district’s Evaluation Contest.

Jane Smith is disqualified from Area B’s Tall Tales Contest. Because she is no longer competing in the Tall Tales Contest, she can judge Area C’s Tall Tales Contest. Similarly, if Jane Smith loses Area B’s Tall Tales Contest, she can judge Area C’s Tall Tales Contest.

What is a contest functionary? Can they serve more than one role?
The following are contest functionaries: contest chair, contest toastmaster, chief judge, contest judges, tiebreaking judge, timers, sergeant at arms, and counters. They cannot serve in more than one role at the same contest and they may not compete in the contest at which they are serving as a functionary.

What happens if I pay my dues on time, but my club treasurer does not submit my dues to World Headquarters by November 30?
You are, unfortunately, ineligible to compete. In order to compete in a speech contest, you must be a member in good standing of a club in good standing. The only way to maintain your good standing is to make sure your club treasurer submits your dues to World Headquarters before the grace period expires (by November 30 for the October renewal period and May 30 for the April renewal period) for continuing members, or by the date of the speech contest for new, dual, transfer, or reinstated members).

Can a member compete in two area contests if the areas are in different divisions or districts?
No. A member can only compete in one area contest of a given type.

Can a member serve as a contest chair at one contest and compete in another?
Yes, as long as the contest where the member is competing and the contest where the member is serving as a contest chair are not at the same event.

Example: Jane Doe is competing at Area G’s fall conference in the Tall Tales contest. She cannot serve as a contest chair for any contests at Area G’s fall conference. Jane is not competing in Area F’s fall conference. Jane Doe can serve as a contest chair for any contest at Area F’s fall conference.

Speech Subject and Preparation

What does the rulebook mean when it says a speech must be “substantially original”?
Twenty-five percent or less of the speech may be devoted to quoting, paraphrasing, or referencing another person’s content. Any quoted, paraphrased, or referenced content must be so identified during the speech presentation.


General Procedure

Should judges remain anonymous?
Yes, in so far as practical. Judges are not known to the contestants and no judges’ names or contact information is provided in any contest materials. Judges’ decisions are confidential. Their identities are confidential as well. If judges are announced, it can lead to confrontations with contestants or audience members who do not agree with the contest results. Anonymity helps the judges be more effective. They can be more objective with their decisions because confrontations after the contest are less likely. This is why judges are not known to the contestants and no judges’ names or contact information is provided in any contest materials.

Does the chief judge judge the contestants?
While the chief judge is a judge, he or she does not judge the contestants. The role of the chief judge is to appoint and advise the judges, counters, timers, and tiebreaking judge. The chief judge also conducts the judges’ briefing before the contest, collects the time record sheet from the timers, collects the ballot from the tiebreaking judge, handles protests, and delivers the list of winners to the contest chair at the end of the contest.

If there are only two contestants in a speech contest, and the first-place winner is unable to attend the next level of competition and the other contestant is disqualified, can we nominate someone else to attend the next level of competition?
No. You cannot nominate a new contestant to compete at the next level of competition nor can you allow the disqualified contestant to compete.

Can members be charged an entry fee in order to compete in a speech contest?
No. Requiring members to pay an entry fee is an addition to the eligibility rules outlined in the Speech Contest Rulebook. Rules can only be added through the administrative protocol with the approval of the Executive Director and International President. This provision is found under Speech Contest Policy in the Speech Contest Rulebook.

Example: Contestant A is competing in a speech contest at a district conference and intends to only compete in the contest. Contestant A is not attending any of the other conference sessions. Contestant A cannot be charged a registration fee. Contestant B is attending education sessions at the district conference in addition to competing in the speech contest. Contestant B can be charged a registration fee.

What are the rules regarding usage of music, media or props in a speech?
Music, PowerPoint presentations and props are allowed during speech contests. A contestant should inform the contest chair if he/she plans on using a prop during the contestants briefing. It’s the contestant’s sole responsibility to arrange for and handle any props or technical gear used in a speech. They may have an assistant help them set up and take down props. The stage must be cleared for the next contestant.

Note: World Headquarters does recommend against the use of music, media or props, as they have a tendency of eliciting negative responses from judges.

What are the rules regarding video or audio recording of a speech contest?

If you wish to record a speech contest, all speakers or presenters must give their written permission to be recorded beforehand.
Any speaker who refuses must not be recorded.
Upon request, any speaker or presenter is entitled to one copy of the recording at no charge.
Recording should not cause a safety hazard to any in attendance, nor should it be a distraction to a speaker or presenter.
During a district conference, recording of speakers and presenters may only occur with the permission of the host district chair.
Recordings of these events are controlled by the host district chair or his/her appointed representative.
If one or more authorized Toastmasters provide recording services and tapes are made available for sale, the Toastmaster providing the services may be reimbursed only for expenses and may not profit from the recording nor charge for the use of equipment.
Profits from any recording sales must be deposited in the district account.

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Meeting Details

When do we meet?

1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month at 19:30
Where do we meet?

Conference Room,
Phoneix Park Community Centre,
22 Rob Roy Road,
Malvern East 3145
(Entry via Children Play Area)