International Speech Contest

2000 Contest Rules

*Note: These rules have been copied from the 2000 Speech Contest Rules (#1171). Clubs need to use that document when planning and conducting speech contests. This page is for information only.


To provide an opportunity for speakers to improve their speaking abilities and to recognize the best as encouragement to all. To provide an opportunity to learn by observing the more proficient speakers who have benefited from their Toastmasters training.


These rules, unless otherwise noted, apply to all Toastmasters speech contests which select contestants for the annual International Speech Contest, which is conducted in English only. These rules may not be supplanted or modified, and not exceptions may be made.


Club, Area, District. Each Club in good standing may select a contestant to compete in the Area contest. An alternate should also be selected. The Area speech contest winner then proceeds to the Division contest (if applicable). The Division winner then proceeds to the District contest. Should an Area or Division contest will advance to that level. NOTE: The District Contest Chairman Informs World Headquarters of the name and address of the winner and alternate in the District contest. Information concerning the Regional contest is then mailed to the winner and alternate.

In those Areas with four assigned Clubs or less, Districts have the option to allow the two highest placed available contestants from each Club to compete in the Area contest. In those Division with your assigned Area or less, Districts have the option to allow the two highest placed available contestants from each Area to compete. In Districts with four assigned Divisions or less, Districts have the option to allow the two highest placed available contestants from each Division to participate in the District contest.

Each Region shall select a winner and an alternate. The contest chairman, usually the first-year Director, Informs/World Headquarters of the name and address of the winner and alternate in the Regional contest. Information concerning the International Speech Contest is then mailed to the winner and alternate. Eight speakers, one from each Region, compete in the International contest. A ninth speaker, selected in a special speech contest among Districts outside of North America, also competes in the Internal contest.


To be eligible to compete at any level of the International Speech Contest, an individual must: Be an active Toastmaster in good standing of a Club in good standing.

Have completed at least six manual speeches in the Communication and Leadership Program manual.

If a new, dual, or reinstated member have dues current with Toastmasters International. Only one kind of exception may be made to the requirements listed above. A charter member of a Club chartered since the previous July 1 is eligible to compete. (The Club must be officially chartered prior to the Area contest.) The following are ineligible for competition in any contest: incumbent Intentional Officers and Directors; District Officers (Governor, any Lieutenant Governor, Division Governor, Area Governor, Secretary, Treasurer, or Public Relations Officer) whose terms expire June 30, International Officer and Director candidates; Immediate Past District Governors; District Officers or announced candidates for the term beginning the upcoming July 1. The winner of the contest finals held each August during the International Convention is not eligible to compete again at any level. Toastmasters who are members in more than one Club and who meet all other eligibility requirements may compete in each Club contest in which membership in good standing is held. However, should they win more than one Club International Speech Contest, the contestant may represent only one of the Clubs at the Area level. No contestant can compete in more than one Area International Speech Contest, even if the two areas are in different Divisions or in different Districts. A contestant must be a member in good standing of the Club, Area, Division, District, or Region being represented when competing in a speech contest at the next level. Each contestant must complete the Speaker's Certification of Eligibility (form 1183) and submit it to the chief judge prior to the contest.


Subject for the prepared speech shall be selected by the contestant. Contestants must prepare their own five to seven minute speeches, which must be substantially original and certified as such in writing to the chief judge by the contestants prior to the presentation of the speeches (on form 1183, Speaker's Certification of Eligibility or Originality). Any quoted material must be so identified during the speech presentation.

All contestants will speak from the same platform or area designated by the contest chairman with prior knowledge of all the judges and all the contestants. The contestants may speak form any position within the designated area and are not limited to standing at the lectern/podium.

A lectern/podium will be available. However, the use of the lectern/podium is optional. If amplification is necessary, a lectern/podium fixed-mounted microphone and a portable microphone should be made available, if possible it is suggested that the fixed-mounted microphone be nondirectional. The selection and use of a microphone is optional for each contestant. All equipment will be available for contestants to practice prior to the contest. Contestants are responsible for arranging for their preferred setup of the lectern/podium microphone and other equipment in a quiet manner before being introduced by the Toastmaster.

Every participant must present an entirely new and different speech for the Regional and for the International contests than given in any contest that same year. Up to and including the District contest, contestants may use the same speech, but are not required to do so.

Winners of each District contest shall present a detailed outline of their winning speech in the District contest to the chief judge of the Regional contest. Winners of the Regional contest will prepare and mail to World Headquarters outlines of their District and Regional winning speeches, which will be given to the chief judge at the International contest.


At the Club or Area level contests, a contest chairman, chief judge, at least five judges, three counters, and two timers are appointed. These appointments will be as far as practical at the Club level, but required at the Area level. At the Division or District level contests, there should be at least seven judges or equal representation from the Areas composing the Division or District in addition to a contest chairman, chief judge, three counters, and two timers.

At the Regional or International contest, there should be at least nine judges or equal representation from the Districts or Regions respectively, no judge shall be a member of the Club represented by a contestant. In addition to the judges, five qualifying judges, a contest chairman, chief judge, three counters, and two timers are appointed.

Before the contest, contestants are briefed on the rules by the contest chairman. Judges, counters, and timers are briefed on their duties by the chief judge. Contestants will then draw for their speaking position with the contest chairman.

If a contestant is absent from the briefing, the alternate speaker, if present, may be included in place of the primary contestant. When the contest Toastmaster is introduced, if not present, the primary contestant is disqualified and the alternate officially becomes the contestant. Where the primary contestant arrives and makes his/her presence known to the contest chair and has all required paperwork in good order prior to the introduction, and missed the briefing, disqualification shall not occur and the primary contestant may speak in the drawn order, but waives the opportunity of a briefing.

Introduce each contestant by announcing the: Contestant's name, Speech title, Speech title, and Contestant's name.

There will be a one minute of silence between contestants, during which the judges will mark their ballots. Contestants may remain the same room throughout the duration of the contest.

In contests with five or more participants, a third place winner (if wanted), second place winner, and first place winner will be announced. In contests with four participants, a second place winner and first place winner will be announced. In contests with three or fewer participants, only the first place winner will be announced. Announcement of the contest winners is final.


Speeches will be five to seven minutes. A contestant will be disqualified from the contest if the speech is less than four minutes 30 seconds or more than seven minutes 30 seconds.

Upon being introduced, the contestant shall proceed immediately to the speaking position. Timing will begin with the contestant's first definite verbal or nonverbal communication with the audience. This will usually be the first word uttered by the contestant, but would include any other communication such as sound effects, a staged act by another person, etc.

Timers shall provide warning signal lights to the contestants, which shall be clearly visible to the speakers but not obvious to the audience.

A green light will be turned on a five minutes and remain on for one minute. An amber light will be turned on at six minutes and remain on for one minute. A red light will be turned on at seven minutes and remain on until the conclusion of the speech.

Disqualification Times:*

Time and Lights*

No signal shall be given for the overtime period.

Any sightless contestant may request and must be granted a form of warning signal of his or her own choosing, which may be an audible device. The contestant must provide any special device required for such signal.

In the event of technical failure of the signal, a speaker is allowed 30 seconds extra overtime before being disqualified.


Protests will be limited to judges and contestants. Any protest will be lodged with the chief judge and/or contest chairman prior to the announcement of the winner and alternate(s). The contest chairman shall notify the contestant of a disqualification regarding originality or eligibility prior to that announcement before the meeting at which the contest took place is adjourned.

Before a contestant can be disqualified on the basis of originality, a majority of the judges must concur in the decision. The contest chairman can disqualify a contestant on the basis of eligibility. All decisions of the judges are final.


Toastmasters International shall reimburse the travel expenses of each North American District's contestant who participates in a Regional or International speech contest as follows:

Air, bus, or train - Full reimbursement, round trip at the lowest rate coach air fare, or discount fare if applicable) between the commercial airport or passenger terminals nearest the Regional Conference or Convention site and the home of each contestant.

Car - On the basis of reimbursement at 20 cents per mile by the most direct route no exceeding the lowest air fare rate (coach or discount if applicable).

Any other mode of transportation - Actual costs incurred no exceeding the lowest air fare rate (coach or discount if applicable). A person riding with another person receiving reimbursement is not entitled to reimbursement.

Reimbursement will be made by World Headquarters as soon as practicable on receipt of certification of attendance at the regional Conference or Convention speech contest by the District Governor and on receipt of ticket receipt(s) for air, bus, or train travel, or mileage for car travel. Hotel or room accommodations are not included.

This page updated on September 5, 2000