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How to Run a Club Speech Contest

Are you hesitant about managing a speech contest at your club, thinking it’s too complex and not knowing where to begin? This concern is common, but you might be surprised to learn that organizing a club speech contest is more manageable than it appears. A quick overview of the essentials can boost your confidence to take on this role.

How to Run a Speech Contest

Your initial task as the club contest chair is to identify the type of Toastmasters speech contest you’re overseeing. Each contest, including the International, Evaluation, Humorous, Table Topics, Tall Tales, and Video Speech contests, has its own set of guidelines detailed in the Speech Contest Rulebook (Item 1171). This rulebook provides the necessary rules and procedures and allows some leeway at the club level. Speech Contest Rule Book:

Step 1: Choosing the contest type is step one.

Step 2: The next crucial step is to enlist contestants, often seen as challenging but essential. This shouldn’t be your sole responsibility; club officers should also actively engage in encouraging members to participate. It’s important to promote the contest well in advance, giving everyone ample time to prepare.

Step 3: Your other key responsibilities fall into two categories: people and materials. The roles you need to fill vary depending on the contest and the availability of volunteers. Essential roles include the contest Toastmaster and at least one timer, ideally two. Vote counters and sergeants at arms are also important, especially for Table Topics or Speech Evaluation contests, but you can adapt based on available members.

Step 4: Review the Contest Rule book. Inexperienced with contests? The Speech Contest Rulebook is a comprehensive guide to help you through the process.

Step 5: Assign a Chief Judge. An experienced club member should ideally be appointed as the chief judge to oversee rule adherence, ballot counting, and paperwork. For judging, clubs either involve all members or select specific individuals. First-time judges should receive training from the chief judge.

In a Speech Evaluation Contest, an additional role is needed: a test speaker unknown to the contestants, for which you can seek assistance from club officers or experienced members.

Materials Needed

Now, let’s talk about materials you’ll need:

Forms: Ensure all necessary documents, including judge ballots, are ready. These can be downloaded from the Toastmasters website.
Table Topics Questions: If hosting a Table Topics Contest, create a range of questions to choose the final one.
Speaking Order: Decide this just before the contest, using numbered slips of paper or playing cards.
While these are the primary materials, you might also want to consider club-specific items like trophies or certificates of appreciation, available through the Toastmasters online store under “Contests.”

Organizing a speech contest might seem daunting, but it’s quite doable. Break down the tasks, gather a team, and tackle each detail step by step. Soon, you’ll be all set to crown the winner of your club’s contest.