This page has been written as a quick reference of the rules and procedures for club level speech competitions. For a full account, please refer to the competition section on the Toastmasters website. A copy of the latest Speech Contest rulebook is also available to download by clicking here.
If you are a more audio/visual sort of a person, Toastmasters have put together a great set of videos to walk you through how to run a speech contest. Click here to see the video series.
What are the administrative roles of a speech contest?
Contest Chair (event organiser)
The member assigned to be Contest Chair has the following responsibilities:
- Ensure all contest roles are filled
- Ensure all contest role holders are briefed on their duties
- Make sure each speaker is eligible to compete and is familiar with the contest rules
- Make room and audio arrangements (i.e. ensure everything is working)
- Conduct a pre- and post-contest publicity program (to members as well as the local media)
- Ensure ballots are counted carefully
- Arrange a ceremony for awards to be presented to contest winners
Although a Contest Chair may have a committee to help them with these tasks, they are ultimately responsible for making sure they are done.
The Contest Chair may appoint a contest Toastmaster to perform any of the chair’s duties listed in the Contest Chair’s Checklist. In such cases, the term “Contest Toastmaster” should be considered synonymous with “Contest Chair.” At Spa Speakers, the Contest Organiser role does not act as Contest Toastmaster.
A contest Toastmaster and Contest Chair are both ineligible to compete in the contest in which they are serving.
If you are contest chair, the following “cheat sheet” has been prepared to help you carry out your role on the day. Please download and print a copy by clicking here.
The Chief Judge has the following responsibilities:
- Appoint and counsel voting judges, counters, timers, and a secret tiebreaking judge.
- Act as chief counter
- Appoint three assistant counters and provides each of them with the Counter’s Tally Sheet
- Encourage all speech contest officials to view the online Speech Contest training at www.toastmasters.org/tlc
- Conduct the judges’ briefing for voting judges, counters, and timers
The judges are responsible for ranking the 3 best Contestants.
Voting Judges are required to submit a Certificate of Eligibility and Ethical Conduct to the Chief Judge of the contest. Click here to download the certificate.
Voting Judges are required to use an official Toastmasters Voting Judge’s Ballot sheet to record their judgement during international contest speeches. Click here to download the Voting Judge’s Ballot sheet.
Tiebreaking Judge ranks all the Contestants. Where there is a tiebreak, the Tiebreaking Judge will decide contestant’s final positions.
Tiebreaking Judges are also required to submit a Certificate of Eligibility and Ethical Conduct to the Chief Judge of the contest. Click here to download the certificate.
The Tiebreaking Judge will be required to use the following Tiebreak Ballot sheet as part of contest protocol to record their judgement on international contest speeches. Click here to download the Tiebreak Ballot sheet.
The counter is responsible for tallying up the votes of the judges.
The vote counter will be required to use the official Toastmasters Tally sheet as part of contest protocol to tally up votes. Click here to download the Tally sheet.
The Timekeeper will be responsible for recording contest speech time. This role is especially important due to the stringent disqualification criteria that applies for speeches that overrun in the contest environment.
The Timekeeper will be required to use the official Toastmasters Timekeeping sheet as part of contest protocol to record speech times.Click here to download the Timekeeping sheet.
A brief Outline of a Contest
For those who will be playing adminstrative roles for the first time in a speech contest, a summary of proceedings has been laid out to help you understand your role. A fuller account can be found in the Speech Contest rulebook. If you want to find out more download it by clicking here
1. Pre-Contest preparations. Before the contest begins the Contest Chair needs to perform the following duties:
- Ensure the contest administration staff (i.e. Judges, Counters, Timekeepers) are properly organised and equipped with what they need (e.g. all the requisite forms)
- Verify the presence of contestants (including finding out how to pronounce everyone’s names)
- Review speech rules with speakers (e.g. speech times, protocol between speeches etc.)
- Review the Certification of Eligibility and Originality provided by contestants, as well as contestant profiles
- Acquaint contestants with the speaking area, equipment, timing lights
- Draws speaking positions (i.e. the order the contestants will perform their speech)
2. Opening the Contest. To open the contest, the Contest Chair will make an introductory address, during which the following messages are to be conveyed to the audience:
- Confirm that contest rules have been reviewed with the Chief Judge and contestants
- Confirm that all contestants are aware of the location of the timing lights
- Inform the audience that taking photos is not permitted
Following these remarks, each speaker is to be introduced slowly and clearly.
3. Running the Meeting. During the course of the contest, the Contest Chair adheres to the following protocol:
- Briefly introduce each contestant when their turn to present arrives
- After each speech, request 1 minute of silence so contest judges can record their evaluations on the official Voting Judges Ballot sheet, and the Timekeepers can record speech times on the official Timekeeping sheets
- Request the next contestant set up for their speech during this 1 minute slot
- After the 1 minute slot is over, introduce the next contestant, until all contestants have presented
4. Conducting the Ballot. After all contestants have given their speeches, the Contest Chair will ensure the following occurs:
- Asks that Voting and Tiebreaking Judges to complete their ballots.
- Ensure the completed Voting Judge’s Ballot Slips are collected by the Counters
- Verify the Time Record Sheet is completed by the Timekeepers and collected by the Chief Judge
- Interview each speaker as the ballots are being counted by the counters in the designated ballot counting area
- When interviews are completed, the Contest Chair will collect the contest results from the Chief Judge
- The Contest Chair has the opportunity to address any protests by judges at this time.
- If a contestant is to be disqualified on the basis of originality or eligibility, they must be given an opportunity to respond to the voting judges. A majority of the voting judges must concur in the decision to disqualify
Throughout the Contest Chair will ensures all documentation is kept confidential during the meeting, and that the Chief Judge properly disposes of the contest documentation.
5. Sharing the Results. Once the contestant interviews have been completed and the contest results have been delivered to the Contest Chair, The Contest Chair will:
- Announce if time disqualification(s) occurred, but not name the contestants involved
- Announce the results and hand out certificates
- Close the Contest by thanking everyone who helped make the contest a success
6. After the Contest. There is some administration required to deliver the club level results to the area level contest administration.
The Contest Chair must complete the following:
- Provide contact details of all contestants to the club level Chief Judge so he or she can complete the Notification of Contest Winner form (Item 1182).
- Ensure this form is sent by the club level Chief Judge to the area level Contest Chair
- Publicise the results of the contest