How to Craft a Club Contest

You joined Toastmasters to develop your communication skills, whether interpersonal or public speaking. If you want to take those skills to the next level, having a club contest is a surefire way to do so. Contestants hone their speech craft to be the best. Spectators get inspired by high quality content and delivery. Functionaries exercise teamwork to make this contest happen.

Contests, in short, engage and benefit members.

Winners of the club contest advance to the area level. Thus, the club contest must be held BEFORE their respective area contest. Click here to find which area your club belongs to, and click here to see your area contest date or to contact your area director.

Disclaimer: Even if you think there isn’t enough time, interest, or manpower to hold a club contest, you can still send a willing representative without one! Just offer this opportunity to your members and let your area director know.

 

THE KEY TO CONTEST PLANNING

When putting together any event, the most important quality is a positive experience, both for members and the planning committee. Have fun and continue learning through this process! That’s what makes it worthwhile in the end.

 

FINDING A DATE, LOCATION, AND TEAM

Contests typically take the place of a regular club meeting. Ideally, the contest date is announced 3 to 6 weeks in advance, to give members time to write their speech and the committee time to promote. You can turn this into a special event with food and beverages, or make it themed!

These are the roles typically found in a contest, all of which can receive Competent Leader (CL) credit. It’s the perfect chance for new members to get involved.

  • Contest Chair – usually appointed by the VPE
  • Toastmaster – facilitates the contests
  • Chief Judge – reads the rules and briefs functionaries
  • Test Speaker – for the evaluation contest (see below)
  • Judges – on the club level, this can be a select few or ALL members
  • Tiebreaker Judge – in the event of a tie between judges
  • Timers (2) – in case one forgets to time
  • Ballot Counters (2) – to assist the Chief Judge
  • Sergeant-at-Arms – same as the existing club officer

 

DOWNLOAD RESOURCES

For the contests in fall 2017, the District has chosen to run the humorous speech contest and evaluation contest. Humorous speech contestants have 5 to 7 minutes to deliver an original speech and make the audience laugh. For the evaluation contest, a test speaker gives a 5 to 7 minute speech. All evaluators leave the room then come back one by one to give their evaluation.

Click here to download humorous contest resources provided by Toastmasters International.

Click here to download evaluation contest resources provided by Toastmasters International.

Bonus: The resources above have printable certificates. It’s not necessary to have an actual trophy, but if you’d like to include one, Amazon has inexpensive options, like this one.

 

WHAT MAKES A GOOD TEST SPEAKER?

For the evaluation contest, the test speaker should be someone that none of the evaluation contestants have heard before. The speaking skill level of the test speaker should be average, around six Competent Communicator speeches. Not a brand new member or a professional speaker.

To find a test speaker, especially if you don’t know many people outside your club, here are some suggestions:

  • Contact your area or division director. There are many members from other clubs within your area and division who would love the opportunity to be a guest speaker.
  • If you’re an officer, ask other connections you made at club officer training.
  • Join the Speakers4Stagetime Google Group or the District 4 Toastmasters Facebook page and post a message there.
  • Visit another club’s meeting in-person and make a personal request. You’ll get double the benefit by expanding your network AND learning how other clubs function.

 

PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE!

Send an email to current members, alumni, and connections outside your home club, inviting them to attend this special event. Use www.canva.com to create a graphic or flyer that can be posted in emails and on your club website. This is an exciting annual function, so make it clear that you don’t want anyone to miss out!

 

CREATING THE SCRIPT & AGENDA

There are tons of templates out there on the internet! Thousands of Toastmasters clubs have hosted contests and posted their material, so you can simply do a Google search for contest agendas or contest scripts. You should absolutely repurpose your existing club agenda and use the following suggested general outline:

  • Before the Contest
    • Chief Judge briefs functionaries. Judges must not consider time in their voting. Timers should keep cards or lights visible for its duration.
    • Contest Chair briefs contestants, choosing speaking order, defining speaking area, reviewing logistics and timing, and confirming speech titles.
  • Starting the Contest
    • Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA) calls the contest to order and makes any housekeeping announcements.
    • Chief Judge reviews contest rules and confirms all functionaries have been briefed.
    • Toastmaster gives an introduction, reviews the meeting agenda, and announces speaking order.
  • Conducting the Evaluation Contest
    • Test speaker delivers his or her 5 to 7 minute speech.
    • SAA escorts evaluators out of the room for 5 minutes while Toastmaster interviews the test speaker. SAA then withholds all notes from contestants and gives them back when it’s their turn to evaluate.
    • Bring back each evaluator individually so no one hears any contestant before them.
    • Give 1 minute for judges between contestants, then allow as much time as needed after all evaluators have finished, for judges to complete their ballots.
    • Ballot counters collect all ballots then leave the room with the Chief Judge to tally up the votes while the Toastmaster interviews the contestants.
  • Conducting the Humorous Speech Contest
    • Contestants don’t need to leave the room. Toastmaster should announce each contestant the same way without any other introduction: speaker name, speech title, speech title, speaker name.
    • Give 1 minute for judges between contestants, then allow as much time as needed after all speakers have finished, for judges to complete their ballots.
    • Ballot counters collect all ballots then leave the room with the Chief Judge to tally up the votes while the Toastmaster interviews the contestants.
  • Announcing the Winners
    • Winners can be announced after each contest, or all at the end.
    • If there are 5 or more contestants, announce 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. If there are 4 contestants, only announce 1st and 2nd place. If there are 3 or less contestants, only announce 1st place.

Bonus: If you know the dates of the area and division level contests, include those on the agenda. Winners of the division contest will move onto the District conference, held on November 11: https://d4conf.eventbrite.com.

 

SUBMIT THE WINNER

Once you have conducted your club contest, thank your attendees and functionaries! Contact your area director and let them know the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners (if applicable) so that committee can help them prepare for the area contest.

And there you have it! If you have any questions about contest planning, contact your area or division director. You can also reach Program Quality Director Stefanie Chow at quality@d4tm.org.

About Stefanie Chow 8 Articles
Stefanie Chow began her Toastmasters journey in August 2013 in order to expand her personal and professional network. She is thrilled to be serving District 4 as its Program Quality Director. Her crowning achievement is competing twice at the District level of the International Speech Contest -- once in San Diego and once in San Francisco. While she is not attending Toastmasters meetings, she is utilizing her communication skills as an advocate volunteer for Freedom House, a shelter for human trafficking survivors. Stefanie also enjoys her career as a meeting and events professional and spends her leisure time exploring craft breweries, watching Broadway musicals, and occasionally performing stand-up comedy!

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