Spa Speakers

Everything you need to know to take part in a Toastmasters speech contest (almost)

Thinking of taking part at a Toastmasters speech contest? Already thrown caution to the wind and dropped your name into the hat? Then this article might be useful to you. The subject? The absolute fundamentals that contestants must be acquainted with to be a bona fide Spa Speakers speech competitor! Read on!

What kind of speech competitions are held by Spa Speakers?

Spa Speakers hold the following speech contests at various points during the year:

1. International Speech
2. Evaluation
3. Humorous Speech
4. Table Topics
5. Tall Tales Speech

We normally hold 1 and 2 on the same day, as do we for 3 and 4.

Who is eligible to compete?

If you volunteer to participate and qualify to compete, we are happy for you to get involved!

Any member of Spa Speakers can compete in a speech contest, except in the case of the International Speech Contest.  In this particular case members must have completed at least six speeches from Competent Communication manual prior to the club contest. If this condition is not met, a contestant might be allowed to compete if there are any places remaining not taken by candidates that meet this criteria. However, such a contestant  will not be able to go through to the next round.

FYI, the other ineligible groups are: serving international officers/directors or future candidates for these roles; anyone serving as a contest judge beyond club level; district officers whose term expire June 30; and immediate past district governors.

Are there any rules around the content of contest speeches?

Contestants must certify their prepared speeches are to be given in a competition context. Certification is achieved by completing the Speaker’s Certification of Eligibility and Originality form, and handing this in to the Chief Judge before the contest begins. You can download and complete this certificate by clicking here.

Contestants are also asked to complete a contestant’s profile as part of the protocol of Toastmaster Speech contests. Click here to download the contestant’s profile form.

In the case of International, Humorous and Tall Tale contests, the contestant has full discretion over the subject of his or her speech.

Contestants must prepare their own speeches and they must be substantially original. The formal criteria for this condition is as follows: 25% or less of the speech may be devoted to quoting, paraphrasing or referencing another person’s content, and must be identified during the speech.

International and Humorous speeches need to be between five and seven minutes long.

Music, PowerPoint presentations and props are allowed during speech contests. Contestants 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.

Please Note: A contestant will be disqualified if the speech is less than four minutes 30 seconds or more than seven minutes 30 seconds.

What’s the procedure at a speech contest?

Before the contest, contestants will be briefed on the rules by the Contest Chair, who will also draw for their speaking position. At this stage, contestants should inform the Contest Chair of any props they plan to use.

Contestants should ensure they arrange their preferred speaking set up in a quiet manner before being introduced (an opportunity to do this arises in the 1 minute of silent that proceeds your speech introduction)

Upon being introduced by the Contest Chair, contestants are to proceed immediately to the speaking position.

Timing will begin with the contestant’s first definite verbal or nonverbal communication with the audience. This usually will be the first word uttered by the contestant, but would include any other communication such as sound effects, a staged act by another person, etc.

The speaker should begin speaking within a short time after arriving at the speaking area, and is not permitted to delay the contest unnecessarily.

Immediately following their speech, contestants should remove any props or visual aids from the speaking area. They may enlist someone to help them with this, but it is not the responsibility of the Contest Chair or any other contest official to do so.

There will be one minute of silence between contestant speeches, during which Voting Judges and the Tiebreaking Judge will mark their ballots. All Voting Judges and the Tiebreaking Judge will judge all contestants; the Chief Judge does not judge contestants.

When the last contestant finishes speaking, the Contest Chair will ask for silence until the ballot counters have collected all ballots.

What if I arrive late?

If a contestant is absent from the briefing, an alternate speaker, if present, is permitted to attend the briefing in place of the primary contestant.

If the primary contestant is not present when the person conducting the contest is introduced, the primary contestant is disqualified and the alternate officially becomes the contestant.

Should the primary contestant arrive after the briefing but before the person conducting the contest is introduced, the primary contestant is permitted to compete, provided the primary contestant:

  • Reports to the contest chair upon his/her arrival.
  • Has all required paperwork in good order before the person conducting the contest is introduced to begin the contest.
  • Waives the opportunity of a briefing.

How is the winner selected?

The speech contest winner will be evaluated by a panel of contest judges.

I won!!! What happens next?

The club level winner (or winners depending on special circumstances at a district level) proceeds onto the area level speech contest. The winner of the area level competition will then proceed to the division level competition. Should a contest winner be unable to proceed to the contest’s next level, the next highest placed available contestant will advance to that level.


Any further questions? Get in touch with the contest chair or any member of the committee and they will be sure to help!

Good luck!

Spa Speakers
Follow Spa!
Tagged on: ,