Advice for Contest Participants

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So you have signed up for a contest? Great stuff!

So how do you win? Obviously by giving the best speech, but also by not missing out on points or being disqualified for trivial things, so *do your homework*:

The rules

So first off, you should read the rule book which you can find here. The rules are key - they define exactly what the participation requirements and also the disqualification criteria for each type of contest.

Next Steps

Next examine the guidelines for each speech contest - first look at the basic descriptions of the contests here, the basic descriptions are also copied below. Within this link there are links to other resources you should look at especially the tutorials. Even as a contestant you should review the judging criteria as these heavily affect how you will perform. For example, in the evaluation contest 30% of the marks are assigned to the conclusion, end without a clear conclusion and you have already lost points. You can download the judges marking sheets as part of the packs here (free download - but you need to be logged in.)

  • International Contestants present a five- to seven- minute speech on any subject they choose.
  • Humorous Contestants present a humorous speech that must be thematic in nature (opening, body, and close), not a monologue (series of one-liners).
  • Evaluation Contestants observe a five-to seven-minute test speech and then present a two-to three-minute evaluation of the test speech.
  • Table Topics An impromptu speech, all contestants are assigned the same topic, told to them when they are introduced by the contest chair.
  • Tall Tales Contestants present a speech on a topic that is highly-exaggerated and improbable in theme or plot

Remember that, to complete, you must be 'a member in good standing' - this means you must have paid your club dues and those have been submitted to TMI at the time of each contest level.

General notes

  • Use the time available - If you have 5 to 7 minutes you really have 4:30-7:30, so if you come in at 4:30 with an excellent speech and somebody else fills the entire 7:25 with a nearly excellent speech who do you think is going to win.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare - This should be you at your best, do you preparation, work with your mentor.
  • Ensure your basic skills are up to scratch, body language, vocal variety etc.
  • Attend workshops run by your division or district
  • Attend other competitions as a guest to see it in action.

Notes on specific contest types

International Speech Contest

  • Use the time you have.
  • Remember that beyond district you need two speeches for the finals, so ensure you have two ready to go.
  • Your speech can evolve between rounds, get feedback, incorporate it, rinse and repeat.


  • Remember it is a thematic humorous speech (not a stand up skit or series of one liners).
  • Leave time for laughter - it is easy to overrun
  • It does not need to be side-splitting gag fest, but ti should be comedic.


  • Obviously you don't know you the speech in advance, but practice evaluation at your club.
  • All contestants will have a fixed time to write notes before the notes are removed (you get them back as you are called).
  • Use the time available
  • Remember Commend Recommend Commend
  • Remember the summary.

Table Topics

  • The best practice is to do as many table topics as possible
  • Make yourself time, repeat and play with the question if needed.
  • Remember you basic speaking skills, body language, vocal variety, stage presence.
  • find a structure.
  • You don't need a straight answer, go weird, go funny.
  • Have fun….

Tall Tales

  • Its an exaggerated story, not a list of one liners.
  • You can prepare, so prepare!
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