It's Contest Time


The Speech Contest Rulebook, in effect from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020, features speech contest rules for the International, Evaluation, Humorous, Table Topics, Tall Tales, and Video Speech Contests.  

Explanation of changes

TMI Speech Contests

Speech Contest Kits – Digital–International-Speech-Contest-Kit

Putting on a Good Contest – Great Checklist

Contestant Briefing Checklist

International Speech Contest Briefing for Contestants  by Toastmaster

Gather all speakers and cover the following points: 

  1. Confirm that all contestants have provided their Eligibility and Originality forms to the Chief Judge. (See item 10 for eligibility rules.) 
  2. Make sure all contestants have provided legible Biographical Data forms to Toastmaster, including their speech titles. 
  3. Let contestants know they will be introduced as follows: Name, Speech Title, Speech Title, Name 
  4. Verify speech title of each speaker and pronunciation of their names. 
  5. Speeches are 5 -7 minutes. Speeches less then 4:30 (four minutes, thirty seconds) or more then 7:30 (seven minutes, thirty seconds) will be disqualified. 
  6. Inform contestants where timekeepers are located and ensure they can see the timing devices. 
  7. The lights will be activated as follows: a. Green light at 5 minutes b. Amber light at 6 minutes c. Red light at 7 minutes and will stay on until the conclusion of the speech. No notice shall be given should a speaker go over time. 
  8. In the event of light failure, 30 seconds will be granted to the speaker (should not be necessary if card boards are in place). 
  9. Time starts with first word uttered or when any form of communication is used. 
  10. Disqualifications are for: a. Time – Chief Judge and Timers. if there is a disqualification for time, it will be announced (no name) before the announcement of the winners. b. Originality – Judges and Contestants may protest to the Chief Judge or Contest Chair, before winners are announced, if they feel the speech is plagiarized, substantially unoriginal or if quotes are not attributed to source. Should a protest be lodged, the Chief Judge will call the judges and the speaker aside for a review. c. Eligibility – must have completed six (6) manual speeches, be a member in good standing of a club in good standing, and not a district officer or candidate for district office. 
  11. Once a winner has been declared, all decisions are final. Note: The Chief Judge and Ballot Counters can correct the Contest Chair if he reads the winners incorrectly. 
  12. Define speaking area. Explain that if contestants step out of the speaking area they are not automatically disqualified but may be marked down by the judges. 
  13. Once all contestants have spoken, the Toastmaster will interview them briefly, asking them their club name/number and one or two questions from their biographies. (If a contestant is competing in both contests, the Toastmaster interviews that contestant after the last contest is completed). 
  14. Draw for speaking order. 
  15. Have contestants remove name tags and any other indications of proficiency or club affiliation. The small Toastmasters pin is acceptable. 
  16. Confirm the following with the speakers and Sergeant-at-Arms. a. Use of props – These should be set up during the minute of silence between speakers b. Lectern required c. Wish to remain in or leave the room (contestants may choose to remain in the room for the duration of the contest or they may leave the room and request to be brought back by the Sergeant-at-Arms when their turn to speak has arrived) 
  17. Are there any questions?

Judges Briefing


  1. The purpose of a speech contest is to pick a winner.  You are to pick a winner based on what you hear today. Not based on personal preference or past performance.  
  2. Sign your ballot now. Explanation of the ballot:  
  3. When the contest begins, the Toastmaster will read the speaking order. When he does, write contestant names across the top of the ballot. 
  4. Be sure to have a copy of the program in case you don’t understand contestant names. Be aware that there might be last-minute contestants not on the ballot.  
  5. Judging criteria appear on the side of the ballot. 
  6. After each speech you will be given one minute to fill this in.  After the last contestant, you will have time to tally your score and pick a winner.  Ultimately, you choose whomever you feel should be the winner. If there is a conflict between your scores and your gut, you make the decision. 
  7. Write your choice for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. There should be nothing on the tear-off sheet but your choices and your printed name and signature.  When you are done, hold up your ballot for the Ballot Counters to collect. 
  8. Judges, raise your hands now, so the Ballot Counters can see who you are.  After the contest, take the top part of the ballot home with you.
  9. Do not put it in the trash here. There have been incidents in the past where contestants took the top part of the ballot out of the trash. 
  10. Try not to sit near contestants. Regardless of where you sit, try to shield your ballot. About protests: 
  11. Only judges or contestants can make a protest.  Protests can be based on two things: eligibility and originality.  A protest must be made to the Chief Judge or Contest Chair A protest must be made before the announcement of the winners is made. After that, it’s too late.  The contestant will be given an opportunity to respond to the judges on a protest regarding originality. Then, the judges will vote as to whether or not they concur. A majority vote of the judges is needed to concur.  The Contest Chair will privately tell a contestant that he was disqualified on the basis