Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Do your homework first!

Toastmasters International has developed plenty of resources to support the running of quality Speech Contests at every level. If you are planning a contest and not sure where to start, we recommend reviewing the Speech Contest Rulebook and Speech Contest Resources as a starting point. Links to other resources are available below as well as FAQs that our District Leaders have sought clarity for in recent years.

Additional FAQs 

These questions have been clarified and reviewed by previous District Leaders.

  • Consider using a restricted cloud drive for documentation and information gathered by the Contest Chair and Chief Judge. The Zoom Host and someone supporting on-the-ground logistics may need access to some documentation, but not all. Be mindful of what really needs to be shared that has members’ confidential information. Ensure documents from the contest are not left unattended.
  • Seek permission to add members to any communication channels that are not GDPR compliant (WhatsApp is not compliant).
  • Use Email as the main communication tool. Contests are formal events and should be managed as such.
  • Ensure you use BCC. The only direct contact information needed is that of the Contest Chair and Chief Judge. Please check before sharing emails of Ballot Counters with the voting judges. Remember to ask permission from those who may be part of the organisation if you are going to add them to a group – this includes judges! As these events are formal affairs, we recommend email as the primary form of communication.
  • Refer to the Speech Contest Rulebook for clarity on eligibility for judges at each level of the contest
  • We strongly recommend that Chief Judges ask for visibility of Pathway Levels 1 & 2 completion certificates for judges above the club level. If a member hasn’t completed or is unable to evidence they have met the qualifying requirements in the traditional program it might be worth considering another judge.
  • All members can complete an eligibility check on themselves via the Toastmasters website to confirm they are a  member in good standing.

No, streaming of contests is not permitted. Hybrid contests should be conducted via a private online platform for contestants, functionaries and delegates and not streamed publically via live platforms.

The District Council moved that all District Contests (Area, Division and District) be hybrid for the 2023/2024 program year.

This decision was made on the 16th of September 2023.

Note, not all Districts will be operating under the same contest format.

District 71 voted to have in-person contests for 2023/2024 for example. If you are a member of more than one District, please see the District Leadership in each District for clarification.

To compete in the International speech contest, the only award from the old programme that meets the eligibility requirement is the Distinguished Toastmaster.

What the rulebook says

To be eligible to compete in the International Speech Contest, a member must:
  1. Have earned certificates of completion in Levels 1 and 2 of any path in the Toastmasters Pathways learning experience or earned a Distinguished Toastmaster award.
  2. However a charter member of a club chartered less than one (1) year before the club contest is permitted to compete without having completed this requirement. The club must have chartered before the Area contest.
For judging, the rules for 2023/2024 are unchanged in regard to the Competent Communication manual*. Please always refer to the Speech Contest Rulebook for clarity.
What the rulebook says

*b) Have completed a minimum of six (6) speech projects in the Competent Communication manual or earned certificates of completion in Levels 1 and 2,of any path in the Toastmasters Pathways learning experience.

Toastmasters International provided specific clarification on this to District Leaders

“District leaders are able to assist with setting up speech contests. However, if they are a candidate for another district leader role and intend to accept the position if offered, they must delegate the Contest Chair role to another Toastmaster. This is common practice as, more often than not, the district leaders are not able to be contest officials.”

What the rulebook says

F. Candidates for elected District leader positions for the term beginning the
subsequent July 1 are ineligible to serve as a contest official or as a test speaker at the
Area, Division, or District level.

Toastmasters answered:

“I posed your question to the speech contest rules committee and I was informed that the only way to disqualify a contestant is for eligibility, originality, and timing and referencing another contestant’s speech.However, a contestant can be given a lower score by the judges for this type of behavior.”

No. The Toastmasters guidance for hybrid contests says:

Online and hybrid contests are an exception to the General Rules for all Toastmasters Speech Contests.

What the rulebook says

“Each contestant must be physically present to compete beyond the club level. Participation by audio, video, or other remote technology is not permitted beyond the club level.”

Other than this exception, the Speech Contest Rulebook must be followed as far as it is applicable.

What the rulebook says

10. Toastmasters who are members in more than one (1) club and who meet all eligibility requirements are permitted to compete in the club contest(s) in each club in which they hold paid membership.
a) No contestant can compete in more than one (1) Area speech contest of a given type, even if the two (2) Areas are in different Divisions or Districts

In alignment with the Speech Contest Rulebook, all contestants must sign the Speaker’s Certification of Eligibility and Originality.

It states

Contestants must maintain eligibility at all levels of any contest. If at any level it is determined that a contestant was ineligible to compete at any previous level, the contestant must be disqualified. This disqualification must occur even if the ineligibility is discovered at a later level and has been corrected.

If you are a Contest Chair, we advised consulting with the member before connecting with the Chief Judge and the accountable District Leader (i.e. Area Director). Ensure the member understands the rules and clarify why you are concerned. Previous instances are usually resolved during this consultation process and we encourage Contest Chairs to take this step first. Be mindful, don’t accuse the member but seek clarity i.e. I am aware you are an active contestant in other clubs, are you aware that you cannot compete in (quote rulebook as above).

The Program Quality Director can also be consulted, however District Leaders may contact Toastmasters International directly via email or phone to seek support on this matter. Beyond confirming the membership status of that member, they can speak to the District Director in the relevant districts to confirm if the member is competing or not.

Voting judges and contestants may raise a protest during the course of the contest if they believe a contestant is not eligable to compete.  In the event of a protest that cannot be resolved on the day of the contest (see the rulebook for how to handle protests), which is rare and unlikely outside of this particular scenario, the Contest Chair and Chief Judge can advise that due to an unresolved and confidential protest that requires further investigation the results of the contest will be communicated to all contestants at a later date.  District Leaders should then consult the Program Quality Director (if they could not do so during the course of the contest itself) for support in resolving the protest, which may require speaking with Toastmasters International.

Rulebook says: The contest chair can disqualify a contestant on the basis of eligibility.

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