Speech Contests

Twice a year, Toastmasters holds speech contests. In fall, we hold the Humorous Speech (occasionally the Tall Tale Speech) and the Evaluation contests. In spring, we hold the International Speech and Table Topics contests. The two contests are held in a single meeting. These begin with contests at the individual clubs, with the winner in each contest moving through to the area, district, and regional finals. In the International Speech contest, the winners go forward to an International contest where the best speaker in the world is chosen!

Below we have a brief outline of what is involved in each speech and the rules that we use for running the contests at Tongue Tamers. Our club rules may be slightly modified from the rules for official Toastmasters contests. There is also a short section on voting, which is slightly different from the way we vote at a normal club contest.

International Speech Contest

These speeches can be on any topic you choose but they are usually fairly serious and motivational in character (it doesn’t hurt to give Toastmasters a plug). They should be 5-7 minutes in length, although there is a 30 second grace period at either end: if you speak for less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds or more than 7 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

The speakers draw lots to determine the order they will speak. All the speakers remain in room throughout the contest, so they will be able to hear the other speakers.

Evaluation Contest

These resemble the normal evaluations that we have at every club meeting except that everybody evaluates the same speech. As with normal evaluations, the speech must be from 2-3 minutes with a 30 second grace period, so that if you speak for less than 1 minute and 30 seconds or more than 3 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

We invite a guest speaker, who gives the “test” speech. All of the evaluators are in the room to listen. When the speech ends, the Sergeant at Arms escorts the evaluators into the kitchen area, where they have five minutes to prepare their notes on the speech that they are evaluating. At the end of the five minutes, they all hand their notes to the Sergeant at Arms (make sure you have put your name clearly at the top of your notes). This ensures that everybody has the same amount of time to prepare their evaluation.

The evaluators return to the room one at a time to give their evaluation. As they enter the room, the Sergeant at Arms returns their notes. Once the evaluator has spoken, they remain in the room to listen to all the other evaluators. At Tongue Tamers, we seed the evaluators: those who have been members of Toastmasters for the shortest period of time give their evaluation first. This allows them to hear how more experienced members evaluate the same talk. That doesn’t mean that one of the less experienced toastmasters cannot win the competition but it can provide a useful learning tool when somebody is just starting to evaluate speeches.

Humorous Speech Contest

Most years we have a Humorous Speech Contest but, every three or four years, this may be replaced by a Tall Tales Contest. As the name suggests, the speech should be humorous. That is not to say it should be a standup comedy routine, merely that it should contain an amusing story and use humor to keep the speech flowing.

The speakers draw lots to determine the order they will speak. All the speakers remain in room throughout the contest, so they will be able to hear the other speakers.

As with the other speech contests, the speech should be 5-7 minutes in length, although there is a 30 second grace period at either end: if you speak for less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds or more than 7 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

Table Topics Contest

The table topics speeches are similar to those that we have at a normal club meeting except that the speakers do not need to use a word of the day and everybody answers the same question.

The Sergeant at Arms leads all the contestants into the kitchen area. As with the evaluation contest, the speakers are seeded so that the least experienced speakers talk first. After they have spoken, they remain in the room and listen to all the other speakers.

The Sergeant at Arms leads the speakers back to the room one at a time. The Table Topics master asks them the question and they have to speak for 1-2 minutes in reply. As usual, there is a 30 second grace period so if you speak for less than 30 seconds or more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

Tall Tale Speech Contest

Every three or four years, we hold a Tall Tale Contest, instead of the Humorous Speech Contest. As the name suggests, the speech should tell a fairly preposterous story. Usually the speaker makes a series or outrageous claims, and the story is often humorous.

The speakers draw lots to determine the order they will speak. All the speakers remain in room throughout the contest, so they will be able to hear the other speakers.

As with the other speech contests, the speech should be 5-7 minutes in length, although there is a 30 second grace period at either end: if you speak for less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds or more than 7 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

Voting

Before the contest, the Sergeant at Arms will give all members voting forms for the appropriate competitions. These are different to the evaluation forms that we normally use but contain a number of qualities that make a good speech. At the end of each speech there is a minute of silence for you to decide how many marks the speech deserves for each of the categories.

When the final speech is finished, you should add up the total number of points for each speaker in the competition. Then submit the names of the three best speakers, in order of your preference. The Vote Counter will award 3 points for a first, 2 points for a second, and 1 for third place and calculate the order of the speakers. Prizes are usually awarded for the first and second place speakers and certificates are awarded to all other participants.

The winner of the contest represents Tongue Tamers at the Toastmasters Area Contest. If the winner is unable to attend, the second place speaker will represent the club.