Contest Organisation and Chairing

Contest Organisation and Chairing

Early Birds is different from most clubs in that it splits it’s Spring Contests (International Speech and Evaluation) and Autumn Contests (Humorous Speech and Table Topics) across two meetings each. Most clubs holds their contests in the same meeting. At EBS there is typically high participation and heavy competition within the club for these awards. The contests are big events in the club calendar and good organisation helps our competitors on their way in the contest season.

Typically, the Contest Organiser also acts as Contest Chairman so that both goals of the Competent leader are achieved by that person. For an organiser they’re a great opportunity to lead an event and show organisational skill.

All advice presented here is subject to being overridden by updates to the Contest Rulebook so refer to it for the latest protocols.

Between 2 and 4 weeks before the Contest

If you are organising a contest where the competitors have to wait away from the main meeting room (Table Topics or Evaluation Contests), you must contact the Host Venue to make arrangements to use an extra room. Our regular booking only allows for One Lodge Room and it’s Ante-room so anything additional must be arranged in advance with due courtesy to our hosts.

Download Contest Pack

Download the latest digital contest pack and read the rulebook contained within:

If you have troubles with your account, please contact the VP Events.

Collate Certificates of Eligibility

The President, VPE or VP Events will be able to provide you with the list of the club’s competitors. Ensure that they each receive the following from the Contest pack:

  • Certification of Eligibility ( … and Originality in the case of speech contests) – be sure to have these back before the contest
  • Contest Rulebook
  • Judges ballot (so they can see the marking criteria)
  • Contestant profile

Assembling your panel of Judges

One of the key responsibilities of the Contest Organisers is to source Judges. A Contest requires a minimum of 5 Judges plus a Chief Judge and a Tiebreaker Judge to go ahead. Aim to get 7 Judges plus Chief Judge and Tiebreaker Judge (9 total) so that if there is a cancellation on the day, the contests are still valid.

  • The Judging panel should have at least half of the Judges from outside of the club for fair judging. If the Chief Judge is an EBS member, sourcing External Judges can be delegated to them.
  • It’s not mentioned specifically in the rule book, but as a point of conduct, Judges should not let it be known that they are judging so remind Judges from within EBS of this when recruiting.
  • Crucially, an external Judge should not be selected if they are still in the competition themselves, even if it’s in another area.
  • The VPE will be able to provide you with a list of external Toastmasters who may be willing to Judge (past judges, friends of the club, past GE’s etc)
  • Create an e-mail to potential judges that you can personalise and send out individually rather than to a mass mailing list. You’re much more likely to get a response this way. Coordinate with the Contest Organiser for the other contest so that you can take half of the mailing list each to e-mail (with each other on CC) and ask for both contests at the same time. It looks unprofessional for the same person to be approached separately by two different EBS Organisers.

The Chief Judge should have acted at least as a Judge before (or better still, have been Chief Judges).

Briefing one of your EBS judges in advance to act as a Reserve Chief Judge so they can fill the role if needs be on the morning. If your Chief Judge gets stuck in traffic (as has happened), you have someone who can step in and brief the judges.

The Tiebreaker Judge should only be known to the contest organiser and the Chief Judge and does not attend the Chief Judge’s briefing.

Finding a Mystery Speaker (Evaluation contest only)

The Evaluation Contest requires a Mystery Speaker to provide the sample speech that all of the evaluators will be evaluating. The Mystery Speaker should be from another club and be unknown to the contestants. As some EBS members visit other clubs regularly, you can never ensure this.

Finding functionaries

Contest Timekeepers x2

Two timekeepers are assigned at contests so that they can both independently time the speeches and verify the time recorded on their report.

Ballot Counters x 3

Collect the ballot slips from the judges and retire with the chief judge to the counting room. Each independently counts the votes and informs the chief judge of their count.

x2

Have two members on Sign-In so you have someone available to take judges directly to the Chief Judge.

Sergeant at Arms

Speech contests only require one sergeant at arms to assist with setup and staging. Table Topics contests require two and Evaluation Contests two or three. Please see the Contest specific notes for their responsibilities in these cases.

Table Topics Master

If you need to fill time during judge deliberations, (or during Evaluation Contest) having a Table Topics Master ready is useful.

Create the agenda

The VP Events or VPE will be able to provide a sample contest agenda to customise for your event. Remember to schedule to start no later than 7:10 and finish by 8:45 at the latest.

The agenda can be printed out on the EBS printer so long as the holder of the printer isn’t competing. If they are competing they shouldn’t see the agenda in advance of the contest as it will name the Chief Judge.

Contest Week

  • Make sure all judges and functionaries know to arrive by 6:30
  • E-mail all external judges with directions to the venue and the name of the Chief Judge. If the Chief Judge is an EBS member, delegate this to them.
  • Brief all functionaries. If the Chief Judge is an EBS member, delegate this to them. There’s very little time before the contest on the morning, so save time by briefing your functionaries before the day. The Time Record Sheet (from the Contest pack) has instructions notes for the timekeepers and the Counters Tally Sheet (from the Contest pack) has instructions for the ballot counters so send these with the briefing. Get confirmation that they have read and understood what’s needed of them. For further details on briefing please see the Chief Judge role guide.
  • Print agendas and Speaking order slips (remember a 6 and 9 look the same, so underline them!).

On Contest morning

  • Collect any outstanding eligibility forms and Judge declarations.
  • Check off functionaries and judges as they arrive. Send judges to Chief Judge for briefing.
  • Brief contestants on timings and rules.
  • Draw for speaking order.
  • Get remaining titles for each speech

During the Meeting

The President will introduce the Contest and then hand the stage to the Chairman for their introduction. The Chairman must also go through the following housekeeping

  • Explain the contest timings, including disqualification times and the fact that no bell will be rung if a speech goes over time.
  • Explain the format that you will announce contestants to the stage with.
  • Announce that after each speech there will be 1 minutes silence for Judges
  • All mobile phones and electronic devices to be silenced.
  • No flash photography allowed
  • Explain that all participants have been briefed and speaking order drawn for.
  • Announce speaking order for the benefit of the judges (ideally list order on a flipchart if none of the speakers are using it in their speech).
  • Ask chief judge to confirm that all judges have been briefed.

Announcing each speaker

Announce each speaker in the following format.
Our [1st, 2nd, 3rd …] speaker is [Name] with a speech entitled [Title], with a speech entitled [Title], [Name]
(Lead applause)

It’s important that all contestants are introduced in the same manner with no difference in inflection from the Chairman.

After each speech, lead the applause, shake hands with the speaker and announce 1 minute of silence for the judges.

Concluding the contest

After the final speech, do as before, but announce 2 minutes of silence for the Judges. This time is for scoring the final contestant and finalising the ballots. In reality, the Judges can take as long as (practically) needed to make their judgement and complete their ballot slip.

The Ballot Counters then collect all ballots from the judges. Chief Judge takes the Timers report and ballot from Tiebreak Judge. When all are collected the Chief Judge and Ballot counters will leave the room for the counting. This might take 5-10 minutes so use the time to present the Certificates of Participation and for Table Topics if needs be.

When the Chief Judge and team arrive back in the room, wrap up and hand stage to the Chief Judge.

After the contest

Your final duty is to fill in the Notification of Winner form and send that to the Area Governor for the next round of the contest.

Contest specific information

International Speech Contest

  • Speakers must have completed 6 speeches to compete
  • Typically we can have up to 10 speeches in a contest

Evaluation Contest

  • A Mystery Speaker is introduced and they deliver a 5-7 minute test speech (see section above on sourcing a test speaker). Contestants are allowed to take notes.
  • After the speech, all contestants are led from the room to another out of earshot by the Sergeants at Arms.
  • Contestants then have 5 minutes to prepare their notes.
  • After 5 minutes, all notes are confiscated, bar those of the first speaker who is taken by one of the Sergeants at Arms to the Contest Room to deliver their evaluation.
  • After that evaluation, as the judges 1 minute for marking starts, the Sergeant at Arms returns and brings the next speaker to the Contest Room.

Humorous Speech Contest

  • As the International Speech Contest, but there is no requirement to have completed 6 speeches.

Table Topics Contest

  • The Contest Chairman has a single secret Contest Table Topic Question ready before the meeting.
  • Note that Contest Table Topics are different in length to EBS Table Topics! Consult rule book!
  • At the start of the contest, all contestants (bar the first speaker) are led from the room to a holding room out of earshot by one of the Sergeants at Arms. The other Sergeant at Arms remains in the room to stand by the door.
  • Contestant is introduced to the stage with
    [Name],[The Table Topic Question],[The Table Topic Question],[Name]
  • After the Topic, the contestant may stay in the room.
  • After that evaluation, as the judges 1 minute for marking starts, the Sergeant at Arms returns and brings the next speaker to the Contest Room.
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