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More Speech Contests at Paris Convention


Last year saw the debut of a new level in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest structure: region quarterfinals. The change reduced the number of districts represented at the contest semifinals, which are held at the annual International Convention, and meant 14 speakers competed in the semifinals—one from each Toastmasters region in the world.

That number will be increased at this year’s convention in Paris, France. While last year’s change to the contest structure generally drew positive feedback, some said they wanted to see more speech contests and participants at the convention. To that end, the Toastmasters Board of Directors approved a change to the format: The top two contestants from each region quarterfinal will now advance to the International Speech Contest semifinals in Paris.

In 2020, four semifinal rounds (rather than the two held last year) will be conducted, featuring seven speakers in each session. The top two from each round will progress to the finals, where eight speakers (up from six last year) will vie for the title of World Champion of Public Speaking. The revised format will provide more contests and speakers for convention attendees to watch.

At district conferences held over the next few months, you’ll have the chance to watch the speaker who will represent your district in the region quarterfinals—and who may advance further than that.


The Emergence of Video

Region quarterfinals were instituted last year because of the growing number of districts represented in the semifinals each year, which resulted in more time and resources going to the convention contests at the expense of education sessions and other business. District-level International Speech Contests are video recorded, and once the district winners are determined, video of their speeches is viewed by region quarterfinal judges. While most districts submitted eligible videos to Toastmasters World Headquarters last year, approximately 15% of districts did not meet all video requirements.

The speech contest team at World Headquarters created a tips video and other helpful resources for district leaders that demonstrate what to do and what not to do when submitting videos of district winners. District program quality directors can also answer questions about this process.

Once all districts in a region have submitted video, judging for that region will begin. As soon as results from an individual region are confirmed by the chief judge, they will be announced, even if other region quarterfinal contests are still in progress. This will enable region quarterfinal winners to start planning as soon as possible for attending the semifinals.

Once all districts in a region have submitted video, judging for that region will begin. As soon as results from an individual region are confirmed by the chief judge, they will be announced, even if other region quarterfinal contests are still in progress. This will enable region quarterfinal winners to start planning as soon as possible for attending the semifinals.

Attend your district conference and cheer on the contest participants. Besides providing support, you’re likely to gain helpful tips from seeing these polished speakers in action.


You can find more information about speech contests on the Toastmasters website and in Toastmasters' Speech Contest Rulebook.



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