Post written by Moira Beaton DTM

Toastmasters clubs hold 4 speech contests every year – International Speech Contest and Evaluation Contest (held together in Spring); Humorous Speech and Table Topics contests (held together in Autumn).

P1050219The winners of the club contests contests go through to the higher heats but, if you are new to Toastmasters or just want to find out more, I’ll stick to the club contests for now.

And, as it’s the season for the International Speech Contest and Evaluation contest, I’ll focus on those.

Here are the answers to some common questions members frequently ask. This does not cover everything. If in doubt, ask your club VPE for a copy of the latest contest rulebook.

International Speech Contest

Q.Who can compete in the International Speech Contest
A.Any member in good standing of a club in good standing who has completed at least 6 manual speeches.
NB: This rule may be waived for members of newly chartered clubs. This is what the rulebook says: ‘A charter member of a club chartered since the previous July 1 is permitted to compete without having completed this requirement. The club must have officially chartered before the Area Contest.

Serving District and International Officers and ‘announced candidates’ for the new Toastmaster year cannot compete. For the precise ruling, read the latest contest rulebook.

Q. If I’m a member of more than 1 club, can I compete in all the club contests?

A. Yes, but you can only represent 1 of your clubs at Area level.

Q. At the International Speech contest, do I have to deliver a motivational speech?

A. No. You can deliver a 5-7 minute speech on any subject, although many contestants deliver motivational-type speeches.

Q. Can I deliver a manual speech and receive credit for it?

A. Some clubs allow this, usually at the discretion of the VPE. They will appoint a speech evaluator to discreetly write an evaluation of your speech during the contest and give you a verbal evaluation afterwards. Don’t tell anyone you are delivering a manual speech, especially not the judges!



Evaluation Contest

Q. Who can compete in the Evaluation Contest?
A. Any member in good standing. There is no 6 speech rule, but, again District and International Officers and ‘announced candidates’ cannot compete. Check the precise wording in the contest rulebook.

Q.What happens at an evaluation contest?
A. A member (usually from another Toastmasters club) delivers a 5-7 minute speech. Their identity will be kept secret until they take the stage.

After the speech, the evaluation contestants leave the room and they have 5 minutes to write their evaluation.

After 5 minutes, they hand their notes to the contest Sergeant-At-Arms (SAA) and wait.

When their name is called, the SAA hands them their evaluation notes. They walk to the ‘stage’ and deliver their 3 minute evaluation, using their notes if they wish.

Q.Who can be a judge?
A. At club level, any member in good standing. At Area, Division and District level, any member in good standing who has delivered 6 manual speeches.

Q. Who can be a Timer or Ballot Counter?
A. Any member in good standing.

Q.What happens if I win the club contest?
A. You go through to the next round – the Area Contest.

Q. What happens if I win the Area contest?
A.You go through to the Division contest

Q. What happens if I win the Division contest?
A. You compete at the District 71 contest.

Q.What happens if I win the D71 contest?
A. This is a huge achievement and the winner of the D71 evaluation contest goes home with a big grin, and a big shield they can display on their mantelpiece.

The winner of the D71 International Speech contest goes to the International Speech Contest semi-finals, usually in the USA. And if they qualify for the final, go on to compete in the World Championship of Public Speaking.

Q.Why compete?
A. It’s one of the best and fastest ways to accelerate your speaking skills, especially if you qualify for the higher levels.

It’s also good fun because you can meet Toastmasters outside your club, Area and Division. Just taking part, even if you don’t win, gives you more confidence, and you feel a great sense of achievement, once it’s over, just because you took part.

Q.I want to take part.

A. If you want to take part, contact your club’s VPE or contest organiser.

Moira Beaton is a member of Waverley Communicators in Edinburgh and a member of Thistle Speakers (Scotland’s Advanced Club). You can find out more about her at and