Speech Contests

Once a year, Toastmasters International holds speech contests. In spring, we hold the International Speech and Table Topics (or Evaluation) contests. The two contests are held in a single meeting. These begin with contests at the individual clubs, with the winner in each contest moving through to the area, division, and district contest. In the International Speech contest, the winners go forward to an International Convention, where the World Champion of Public Speaking will be chosen!

Below, we have a brief outline of what is involved in each contest and the rules that we use for running the contests at Tongue Tamers. Our club rules may be slightly modified from the rules for official Toastmasters contests. There is also a short section on voting, which is slightly different from the way we vote at a normal club contest.

International Speech Contest

These speeches can be on any topic you choose, but they are usually inspiring and motivational in character. A little bit of humor never hurts! They must be 5 – 7 minutes in length, although there is a 30 second grace period at either end: if you speak for less than 4 minutes and 30 seconds or more than 7 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

The speakers draw lots to determine the order, in which they will speak. All the speakers remain in the room throughout the contest, so they will be able to listen to the other speakers.

Table Topics Contest

At a table topics contest, you will have to speak for 1 – 2 minutes, with a 30 second grace period at the end. If you speak for less than 1 minute or more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

The contestants draw lots to determine the order of speaking. The first table topics contestant stays in the room, while the sergeant-at-arms escorts the other contestants into a separate room. Each contestant will receive the same question from the table topics contest master. When a contestant has completed his speech, the members will have one minute to complete their score cards for the contestant. After that, the next contestant will be led into the room to answer the question. This process will be repeated, until all contestants have spoken. Once a contestant has spoken, she or he may remain in the room and listen to the following contestants.

Evaluation Contest

These resemble the normal evaluations that we have at every club meeting except that everybody evaluates the same speech. The evaluation must be from 2 – 3 minutes with a 30 second grace period on either end, so if you speak for less than 1 minute and 30 seconds or more than 3 minutes and 30 seconds, you will be disqualified.

We invite a guest speaker from a different club, who gives the “test” speech. All of the evaluators are in the room to listen. They have drawn lots to determine the order, in which they will be called to give their evaluations. When the test speech ends, the Sergeant at Arms escorts the evaluators into a separate room, where they have five minutes to prepare their notes on the speech that they are evaluating. At the end of the five minutes, they all hand their notes to the Sergeant at Arms (make sure you have put your name clearly at the top of your notes). This ensures that everybody has the same amount of time to prepare their evaluation.

The evaluators return to the room one at a time to give their evaluations. As they enter the room, the Sergeant at Arms returns their notes. Once an evaluator has spoken, she or he remains in the room and may listen to all the other subsequent evaluators.


Before the contest, the Sergeant at Arms will give all members voting forms for the appropriate competitions. These are different to the evaluation forms that we normally use, but contain a number of qualities that make a good speech. At the end of each speech, there will be a minute of silence for you to decide how many marks the speech deserves for each of the categories.

When the final speech is finished, you should add up the total number of points for each speaker in the competition. Then submit the names of the three best speakers or evaluators, in order of your tally. The Vote Counter will award 3 points for a first, 2 points for a second, and 1 for third place and calculate the order of the speakers. Trophies or medals are awarded for the first, second, and third place, if there are at least five contestants, and for the first and second place, if there are between two and four contestants. Certificates are awarded to all participants.

The winner of each contest will represent Tongue Tamers at the Area Contest. If the winner is unable to attend, the runner-up will represent the club.