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Speech Contests in your Club

This page is intended mainly for newer members

A speech contest is probably going to be your first experience of anything other than a “normal” meeting. This page aims to show you

  • What they are
  • Why you should be interested
  • How to get involved

What is a Speech Contest?

When you give a speech in your club, you are evaluated – never judged. This is not the case in a contest; there, each contestant has as equal as possible an opportunity to impress a panel of judges. Those judges are there with one purpose – to pick a winner. They decide which contestant delivered the most effective speech according to the set of criteria on their ballot and the ethics in their training.

There are four contests held each year in our District:

  • The Humourous Speech and Table Topics contests are held in the first half of the Toastmasters year (July to August)
  • The International Speech and Speech Evaluation contests are held in the second half (January and February)

To enter the International Contest, you need to have completed the first two levels of a Pathways path. Other contests are open to everyone.

Why Should I Want to Enter?

People get involved for all sorts of reasons. One is they joined for public speaking experience and each level of contest puts you in front of a larger audience. Some see it as a way of doing extra projects if they want to complete a level or two faster than they could normally at club. Some, of course, are simply competitive; others may have been recommended to put a particular speech into competition.

However, its not just speaking. If you compete, its useful to judge so you see both sides of the process, for example; and there are other roles to help out your club, including chairing a contest. The Vice President of Education is responsible for the contests, but does not have to run them on the day. Also, if you see the benefit of evaluation, judging is a great way to extend that experience. Judging also takes you out of your club environment and into another club, again broadening your knowledge of Toastmasters.

How can I get Involved?

The easiest way is to have a chat with your Vice President of Education. Usually, there is a call put out for contestants and contest officials around four weeks in advance of the contest, and you’ll also hear other clubs looking for judges. Even if you are entering a competition, you can judge at other clubs; its all part of Toastmasters learning. At higher levels, though, you have to choose between competing and judging for any given type of contest; you can’t do both.

All of that is in the Contest Rulebook, which you should get to know as soon as you get involved with contests. The rules change every year but you can always find the current version by searching for its item number (1171) or for “rulebook” at
Other useful resources include:

  •  The rules are reprinted each year but you should regard the Frequently Asked Questions list as part of them as well
  • If you need clarification, contact the Speech Contests team at World Headquarters through the TI Contacts page
  • If you are chairing a contest, you’ll find scripts to help you on our District Documents page
  • Almost everything you’ll need is grouped in the Speech Contests section of the International website, but…..
  • …..if in doubt ask your Vice President of Education, they are responsible for organising the contests and….
  • ….you’ll also find information on our Club Officers page about contests