Speech Contests FAQ
Are 2021-2022 speech contests taking place in-person or online?Back to Top
The decision of the Board of Directors was that, for the 2021-2022 speech contest cycle, each District Executive Committee (DEC) may choose a format of either in-person or online. Each District was required to communicate their selected format to Toastmasters World Headquarters by July 31, 2021.
The format selected by the DEC and communicated to World Headquarters is the only format in which contests may be held at the Area, Division, and District levels. Hybrid contests, in which some participants are in person and others are online during the contest, are not an option.
In-person contests may be broadcast to a live audience only if all contestants and officials are present in person. If a contestant cannot participate in person, the District will need to determine if the contest needs to be switched to online only. There are no exceptions in allowing a contestant or official to participate remotely if the contest is held in person.
Contests that are conducted with all contestants and officials online can be broadcast for the general audience (in-person, online, or hybrid).
What are the guidelines for Districts conducting online speech contests?Back to Top
Online speech contests must be conducted with each contestant participating from physically-distant locations, using equipment that each contestant obtains themselves. All contestants and contest officials must be present in real time for a live, online contest. The contest may be broadcast live or recorded and then shared with general audience members.
Can my District change our selected contest format?Back to Top
To ensure that member health and safety remain a priority, Districts may switch from in-person contests to online contests. This is the only change permitted. Districts cannot switch from online to in-person contests.
Please continue to monitor local guidelines and restrictions within the District. Should a District need to change from an in-person to online contest due to local restrictions or health and safety concerns, this decision must be made by the District Director, Program Quality Director, and Club Growth Director. The change in contest format should be communicated to the District Executive Committee and World Headquarters (via firstname.lastname@example.org) immediately.
Can reaction buttons or emojis be used during online contests?Back to Top
It is recommended that reaction buttons, emojis, or other similar interactions are not used during speech contests. Such reactions could be distraction to contestants and judges. If your online platform allows for reactions to be inactivated, it is recommended that you take this approach. You may also want to consider turning off chat for similar reasons. If you are not able to turn off reactions or chat, ensure that contestants, judges, and audience members know not to use these features, as they could disrupt the contest. If chat is disabled across the platform, please ensure all officials and contestants have a way contact the chief judge and contest chair if needed.
What are the guidelines regarding video or audio recording of a District speech contest?Back to Top
If a recording is made for any purpose other than to be used in region quarterfinal judging, Districts determine the guidelines regarding video or audio recording. Any guidelines established must not contradict the Speech Contest Rulebook and must consider the safety of contestants and audience members.
Any recordings to be submitted for region quarterfinals must follow the rules outlined in the Speech Contest Rulebook.
All region quarterfinal contestants must complete the Speaker’s Certification of Eligibility and Originality form (Item 1183) and the International Speech Contest Region Quarterfinals Video Release form (Item 1193).
If you are conducting your speech contest online, you must also read the below Online Speech Contest Statement and have anyone who will be on camera sign the Video Release Form.
Where can I find more information or resources on speech contests?Back to Top
The first place to look for further information is the Speech Contest Rulebook. This contains all the rules for speech contests, several checklists with common steps to run or participate in a contest, and a list of available resources. Additionally, you can find more resources included in the speech contest kits, which are all available for free as digital downloads. These downloads include certificates, ballots, tally sheets, and other resources for conducting a speech contest. For general information about the different types and levels of Toastmasters Speech Contests, visit the speech contest webpage.
Where can I find the dates and times of the speech contest in my Area, Division, or District?Back to Top
Toastmasters International World Headquarters does not track the dates and times that contests will be held for club, Area-, Division-, or District-level contests. We recommend speaking with your club or District leadership for further information on speech contest dates.
Who is ineligible to compete in any speech contest?Back to Top
In general, any individual who is performing the role of a contest official including judges, counters, Sergeant at Arms, and a contest Toastmaster cannot compete in a contest in which they are serving or in a contest in which the outcome of the contest they are officiating will be affected.
Additionally, District, region, and international leaders should not be competing in speech contests. This includes current officials and candidates for future roles.
Lastly, education session presenters and event committee chairs for the event where the contest is being held may not compete.
For a full and complete list of all individuals who are ineligible to complete in Toastmasters Speech Contests, review section 2.A. of the Speech Contest Rulebook.
What happens if I pay my dues on time but my club treasurer does not submit my dues to World Headquarters?Back to Top
Unfortunately, in this instance, you are ineligible to compete. To compete in a Toastmasters Speech Contest, you must be a paid member of a club in good standing in the Area, Division, and District in which you are competing. The only way to maintain your paid membership is to make sure your Club Treasurer submits your dues to World Headquarters by October 1 for the October renewal period and by April 1 for the April renewal period. For new, dual, transfer, or reinstated members, the membership application and applicable dues must be received by World Headquarters prior to competing in the first contest.
Are contestants required to have completed a minimum number of speeches, projects, or levels to participate in a speech contest?Back to Top
The only speech contest with an education requirement is the International Speech Contest. To participate in any level of the International Speech Contest, a member must have completed Levels 1 and 2 of any path in the Toastmasters Pathways learning experience.
Only members who joined Toastmasters prior to the rollout of Pathways in their region can apply speeches from the Competent Communication manual to speech contest eligibility. For members who qualify, at least six speeches in the Competent Communication manual must have been completed.
For clubs that chartered less than one year before the club contest, the charter members are permitted to compete without having completed this requirement.
Can a member compete in two Area contests if the areas are in different Divisions or Districts?Back to Top
No. A member can only compete in one Area contest of a given type.
Can a member serve as a contest chair at one contest and compete in another?Back to Top
Yes, as long as the contest where the member is competing and the contest where the member is serving as a contest chair are not at the same event.
Example Scenarios: Jane Doe is competing at District G's annual conference in the Tall Tales Contest. She cannot serve as a contest chair for any contests at District G's annual conference.Jane is not competing in District F's annual conference. Jane Doe can serve as a contest chair for any contest at District F's annual conference.
What is a contest official? Can they serve more than one role?Back to Top
The following are contest officials included in the Speech Contest Rulebook: contest chair, contest Toastmaster, event committee chairs, chief judge, voting judges, tiebreaking judge, timers, sergeant at arms, and counters. Contest organizers may establish additional roles to assist with their contest as needed.
Officials should not serve in more than one role at the same contest, and they may not compete in the contest at which they are serving as an official.
Who can be an alternate speaker?Back to Top
The alternate speaker is the next person who is eligible to be a contestant at the next level after the first-place winner, when applicable. The alternate speaker is not limited to the next person in line for the contestant spot. For example, if the first-place winner from Division A is not available for the District-level contest, then the second-place winner from Division A would be considered the alternate. If the second-place winner from Division A is unavailable, then the third-place winner would be the next alternate, and so on until the last place contestant would be the alternate. If no other contestants are available, there would be no alternate.
Should judges remain anonymous?Back to Top
Yes, the names of the voting judges must remain anonymous, as much as is practical. Judges are not known to contestants, and no judges' names or contact information is provided in any contest materials. Judges’ decisions and identities are confidential. Sharing the names of judges could lead to confrontations with contestants or audience members who do not agree with the contest results. Anonymity helps the judges be more effective. They can make more objective decisions because confrontations after the contest are less likely.
Does the chief judge’s role include judging contestants?Back to Top
No. While the chief judge is a judge, they do not judge contestants. The role of the chief judge is to appoint and advise the judges, counters, timers, and tiebreaking judge. The chief judge also conducts the judges’ briefing before the contest, collects the time record sheet from the timers, collects the ballot from the tiebreaking judge, handles protests, and provides the list of winners to the contest chair at the end of the contest. Because the chief judge does not judge contestants, their identity does not need to remain anonymous.
What does it mean that "a member serving as a chief judge, voting judge or tiebreaking judge beyond the club level for a contest in which the member is still competing or intends to compete" is ineligible?Back to Top
Beyond the club level, a member cannot judge a contest where the contest result could lead to the member competing against the contest's winner.
Example Scenarios: John Smith wins Area B's Evaluation Contest. He is asked to judge Area C's Evaluation Contest. If he judges at Area C's Evaluation Contest, he is ineligible to continue competing in the District's Evaluation Contest.
Jane Smith is disqualified from Area B's Tall Tales Contest. Because she is no longer competing in the Tall Tales Contest, she can judge Area C's Tall Tales Contest. Similarly, if Jane Smith loses Area B's Tall Tales Contest, she can judge Area C's Tall Tales Contest because she is no longer competing.
An Area with five clubs has one club that is not in good standing. Can the clubs in good standing in that Area send two contestants to the Area contest?Back to Top
Yes. Areas with four assigned clubs or fewer in good standing may have clubs send two contestants to the Area contest.
Note: The decision whether or not to allow two contestants to advance from club to Area, from Area to Division, and/or from Division to District must be made and communicated throughout the District prior to any club contests being held as per Rule 3.B in the Speech Contest Rulebook. Once the decision is made, it must be implemented consistently throughout the District in all clubs, Areas, and Divisions affected.
What does the rulebook mean when it says a speech must be “substantially original?”Back to Top
Twenty-five percent or less of the speech may be devoted to quoting, paraphrasing, or referencing another person’s content. Any quoted, paraphrased, or referenced content must be so identified during the speech presentation. Each judge must determine if they believe that 25 percent or less of the speech was devoted to quotes, etc.
If there are only two contestants in a speech contest, and the first-place winner is unable to attend the next level of competition, and the second-placed contestant is disqualified, can we nominate someone else to attend the next level of competition?Back to Top
No. You cannot nominate a new contestant to compete at the next level of competition, nor can you allow the disqualified contestant to compete.
Can members be charged an entry fee in order to compete in a speech contest?Back to Top
No. Requiring members to pay an entry fee would be considered an addition to the eligibility rules outlined in the Speech Contest Rulebook. Rules can only be added through the administrative protocol with the approval of the Chief Executive Officer and International President. This provision is found under Speech Contest Policy in the Speech Contest Rulebook.
Example: Contestant A is competing in a speech contest at a District conference and intends to only compete in the contest. Contestant A is not attending any of the other conference sessions. Contestant A cannot be charged a registration fee. Contestant B is attending education sessions at the District conference in addition to competing in the speech contest. Contestant B can be charged a registration fee.
What are the rules regarding usage of music, media, or props in a speech contest speech?Back to Top
The use of props (including music and PowerPoint presentations) are allowed during speech contests in accordance with speech contest rules. Please review the Use of Props section of the Speech Contest Rulebook for complete details.