Speech Contests

Toastmaster Clubs in New Zealand generally hold four speech contests each year.

These are:

  • Evaluation Contest
  • Humorous Contest
  • International Contest
  • Table Topics Contest

This page gives a summary of the rules for the above four contests.  Please refer to the current year’s Speech Contest Rulebook for full details.  The Club’s President or Vice President Education should have a copy of the Rulebook.  Alternatively contact your Area Governor.

For information on how to organise and run a speech contest, go to Running Contests.

These notes explain what a contestant needs to know when competing in speech contests, and you’ll find links to resources, tips and speech scripts at the bottom of the page.

Note: These notes have been taken from the  Speech Contest Rulebook published by Toastmasters International.

Read Those Eligibility Rules

Before your club holds its contest, check to see that all contestants are eligible to participate. Each year someone is disqualified at the division or district level contests because no one had bothered to confirm his or her eligibility earlier. Don’t let this happen to your contestant!  Rules are mailed to club presidents in October each year.

Check the Speech Contest Rulebook on the Boaters Toastmasters resource page. (.pdf)

Evaluation Contest

Download the Boaters Evaluation Contest help sheet on the Boaters Toastmasters resource page. (.doc)

Purpose
To encourage the development of evaluation skills and to recognise the best as encouragement to all, and to provide an opportunity to learn by observing the more proficient evaluators who have benefited from their Toastmasters training.

Eligibility
All Toastmasters who are members in good standing of the Club in which they are competing are eligible to compete.  The Club also must be in good standing. New, dual, or reinstated members must have dues and membership application current with Toastmasters International.

The following are ineligible to compete in this contest:

  • incumbent International Officers and Directors
  • District Officers (Governor, any Lieutenant Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, Division and Area Governors) whose terms expire June 30
  • International Officer and Director candidates
  • Immediate Past District Governors
  • District Officers or announced candidates for the term beginning the upcoming July 1
  • presenters of educational sessions at the Area, Division, and District event at which the contest will be held
  • an individual may not be a judge at any level for a contest in which they are still competing

The Test Speech and Evaluation
You will listen to a test speech of 5-7 minutes duration, usually taken from the Competent Communication manual.  You may make notes during the test speech using your own writing materials.

At the conclusion of the test speech, you will have exactly 5 minutes to prepare your evaluation.  You will then hand your notes to the contest sergeant at arms for safekeeping.

At the end of this time, all except the first speaker go to a separate room to wait until called.

You will be handed back your notes immediately before your evaluation speech.

The speech timing is 2-3 minutes.  You will be disqualified if you speak less than 1 minute 30 seconds or more than 3 minutes 30 seconds.

Timing
Timing begins with the first definite verbal or non-verbal communication with the audience.

Green light at 2 minutes for 30 seconds.  Yellow light at 2 minutes 30 seconds for 30 seconds.  Red light at 3 minutes and remains on until evaluation concluded.

Judging Criteria

Analytical Quality – 40%
Includes effectiveness of evaluation, careful analysing strengths and weaknesses of speaker’s presentation. Make clear and logical comments.  Identify specific strengths and weaknesses.

Recommendations – 30%
Offering specific recommendations for improvement, practical, helpful, positive

Technique – 15%
Refers to the manner in which your comments and recommendations are presented. Sensitive to feelings and needs of speaker, yet inspirational and encouraging.

Summation -15%
Concluding your evaluation, briefly summarising your comments and suggestions, being positive and encouraging.

For information on how to prepare contest-winning evaluations go to Evaluations, a resource by Kim Chamberlain, District 72’s Evaluation Champion for 2002.

Humorous Contest

Download the Boaters Humorous Contest help sheet on the Boaters Toastmasters resource page. (.doc)

Purpose
To provide an opportunity for speakers to improve their speaking abilities and to recognise the best as encouragement to all; to provide an opportunity to learn by observing the more proficient speakers who have benefited from their Toastmasters training; and to recognise the value of humour in speaking.

Eligibility
All Toastmasters who are members in good standing of the Club in which they are competing are eligible to compete.  The Club also must be in good standing. New, dual, or reinstated members must have dues and membership application current with Toastmasters International.

The following are ineligible to compete:

  • incumbent International Officers and Directors
  • District Officers (Governor, any Lieutenant Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, Division and Area Governors) whose terms expire June 30
  • International Officer and Director candidates
  • Immediate Past District Governors
  • District Officers or announced candidates for the term beginning the upcoming July 1
  • presenters of educational sessions at the Area, Division, and District event at which the contest will be held
  • an individual may not be a judge at any level for a contest in which they are still competing

The Speech
You can select any topic which must be substantially original.  Any quoted material must be identified during the speech.  Avoid potentially objectionable language, anecdotes and offensive material.  The speech must be thematic in nature (opening, body and close) not a monologue (series of one-liners).

Timing
The speech timing is 5-7 minutes.  You will be disqualified if you speak for less than 4 minutes 30 or more than 7 minutes 30 seconds.

Timing begins with the first word uttered by you, but if you engage in definite verbal or nonverbal communication with the audience prior to reaching the speaking position and uttering the first word, timing begins then.

Green light at 5 minutes for one minute.  Yellow light at 6 minutes for one minute.  Red light at 7 minutes and remains on until speech concluded.

Judging Criteria

Content – 55%
Includes Speech Development (15 points), Effectiveness (15 points), Speech Value (15 points) and Audience Response (10 points).
Delivery – 30%
Includes Physical presentation (10 points), Use of Voice (10 points), and Manner (10 points).
Language – 15%
Includes Appropriateness of language and choice of words (10 points), and Correctness of language (5 points).

International Contest

Download the Boaters International Contest help sheet on the Boaters Toastmasters resource page. (.doc)

Purpose
To provide an opportunity for speakers to improve their speaking abilities and to recognise the best as encouragement to all; and to provide an opportunity to learn by observing the more proficient speakers who have benefited from their Toastmasters training.

Eligibility
To be eligible to compete at any level of the International Speech Contest, an individual must:

  • be a member in good standing of the Club in which he or she is competing.   The Club also must be in good standing.  A new, dual, or reinstated member must have dues and membership application current with World Headquarters.
  • have completed at least six manual speeches in the Competent Communication manual prior to the Club contest (see special rules for newly chartered clubs).
  • maintain eligibility at all levels of any contest (see conditions in rulebook)

The following are ineligible to compete in this contest:

  • incumbent International Officers and Directors
  • District Officers (Governor, any Lieutenant Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, Division and Area Governors) whose terms expire June 30
  • International Officer and Director candidates
  • Immediate Past District Governors
  • District Officers or announced candidates for the term beginning the upcoming July 1
  • presenters of educational sessions at the Area, Division, and District event at which the contest will be held
  • an individual may not be a judge at any level for a contest in which they are still competing

Speech subject
The subject which must be substantially original, is selected by the contestant.  Any quoted material must be so identified during the speech presentation.

Timing
The speech timing is 5-7 minutes.  You will be disqualified if you speak for less than 4 minutes 30 seconds or more than 7 minutes 30 seconds.

Timing begins with the first word uttered by you, but if you engage in definite verbal or nonverbal communication with the audience prior to reaching the speaking position and uttering the first word, timing begins then.

Green light at 5 minutes for one minute.  Yellow light at 6 minutes for one minute.  Red light at 7 minutes and remains on until speech concluded.

Judging Criteria

Speech development – 20%
Includes structure, organisation, support material

Effectiveness – 15%
Relates to achievement of purpose, interest, audience reception

Speech value – 15%
This includes original and logical ideas used

Physical delivery- 10%
This is your appearance and use of body language

Voice – 10%
Your voice volume and flexibility

Manner – 10%
Manner includes your directness, assurance and enthusiasm

Appropriateness – 10%
This means the appropriateness of the speech to your purpose and the audience

Correctness – 10%
Includes grammar, pronunciation and word selection

Table Topics Contest

Download the Boaters Table Topics Contest help sheet on the Boaters Toastmasters resource page. (.doc)

Eligibility
All Toastmasters who are members in good standing of the Club in which they are competing are eligible to compete.  The Club also must be in good standing. New, dual, or reinstated members must have dues and membership application current with Toastmasters International.

The following are ineligible to compete:

  • incumbent International Officers and Directors
  • District Officers (Governor, any Lieutenant Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations Officer, Division and Area Governors) whose terms expire June 30
  • International Officer and Director candidates
  • Immediate Past District Governors
  • District Officers or announced candidates for the term beginning the upcoming July 1
  • presenters of educational sessions at the Area, Division, and District event at which the contest will be held
  • an individual may not be a judge at any level for a contest in which they are still competing

The Topic
All contestants will receive the same topic, which shall be of a general nature, and shall speak for two minutes.  The topic shall be of reasonable length, shall not require a detailed knowledge and should lead to an opinion or conclusion.

Timing
Timing begins with the first definite verbal or non-verbal communication with the audience.

Green light at 1 minute for 30 seconds.  Yellow light at 1 minute 30 seconds for 30 seconds.  Red light at 2 minutes and remains on until speech concluded.  If you speak for less than one minute or more than two minutes 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

Judging Criteria

Speech development – 30%
Opening, body, close, organisation, smoothness
Effectiveness – 25%
Logic, directness, enthusiasm, achievement of purpose
Physical – 15%
This relates to your appearance and body language
Voice – 15%
Voice volume and flexibility
Language – 15%
Appropriate to speech, purpose and audience, used good grammar, pronunciation and word selection