Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Beyond the Speech Contest Rule Book

Hurrah! It is contest season, again. This is the time of the year when clubs, divisions and districts prepare their members to organize speech contests. Speech Contest rule book gives a broad framework to prepare for contests. This article provides some information which is not covered by the Speech Contest rule book and may help Toastmasters who are planning to organize contests.

Also read: 10 things that you should not do in Speech Contests

1. There is nothing Taboo

Sex, Religion & Politics are considered as Taboo in most of our clubs in District 82. However, some judges do not realize that they aren’t considered as Taboo in the context of speech contests. Technically, you cannot disqualify a person for touching upon such Taboo topics during the contest speech. But, you can definitely reduce the points for the speaker – if you think that the speaker used vulgar content which was not appropriate to the audience. Judging form has a section called “Appropriateness to Speech Purpose & Audience”. You can allocate lower scores to the speaker under that category.

2. Originality of the script

Speech contest rulebook says that the speeches should be substantially original – which means 25% or less of the speech can be from external sources. How do you go about calculating whether the speech script has exactly 25% or less from external sources? If the speaker has the written speech script handy, you can calculate it easily. In the absence of a written speech script, you can go by the time duration of the speech that is from external sources. As always, judges can jointly decide whether the speaker was within the 25% limit or not and give an opportunity to the speaker to express/substantiate his views.

3. Too much of drama isn’t great delivery

“Will the content of the speech appeal to a general audience? Will the speech delivery make ordinary people to enjoy the speaker’s performance”? When you carefully watch the videos of World Champion of Public Speaking contests, you’ll realize that the winning speeches would make an impact NOT only on Toastmasters but also on the average Joe. As judges, we shouldn’t get carried over when speeches are overdramatic and shouldn’t confuse them with great delivery.

4. 30 seconds grace time isn’t for audio or light failure

There is a common perception that speakers should be given an extra 30 seconds during a power failure. However, the speech contest rule book says “In the event of technical failure of the signal or timing equipment, a speaker is allowed 30 seconds extra overtime before being disqualified”. A humorous contest speaker even made fun of this statement, “if there is a timing equipment failure, how would you time the extra 30 seconds”. Well, the extra 30 seconds is used for switching from one timing device to another. The contest organizers are expected to give two timing devices (such as stopwatch) to the timers and they are available with the timers, handy.

Also read: 11 mistakes to avoid in Humorous Speech Contests

If you want to pick the right contestant as the winner, you need to have the right judges. Right judges are the ones who are trained and knowledgeable on the Speech Contest Judging rules. Together, let us pick the BEST contestant as winner, to represent District 82.

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