Advice for Contest Organisers and Helpers

<- back to Contests

You have tasked yourself with organising (or helping to run a contest), you have come to to the right place!

So how do you ensure that your club, area, division or district contest is awesome? The key (like nearly everything in TM) is effective preparation.

Often you will be organising two contests running at the same meeting. Many clubs will (if possible) run the pair (international + evaluation / humorous + table topics) at the same event to cut down on organisational requirements. You can still have two contest chairs (very common), even if the are run side by side. Some club meetings are too short for this so it may be split into two.

Before doing anything else go and look at these resources on TMI. There is a lot of useful information in the resources section.


  1. Arrange a date and book a venue
  2. Read the rules
  3. Print the paperwork
  4. Secure Dignitaries and judges
  5. Get trained!
  6. Get contestant information
  7. Print Agendas
  8. Run a great contest

Arrange a date and booking the venue

At club level the contests are generally run during a meeting - meaning you do not need to find another venue. You will need to arrange with the President/VPE to update the meeting appropriately. For Area and above a venue will need to be organised.

N.b. At Area level Contest costs must be covered by

Try to schedule your contest at least 2 weeks before the next level to give your winner time to prepare for the follow contest. For Area try and ensure that the date doe does not conflict with any of the area's regular meetings.

Print the paperwork

You have two choices - you can either [[a kit from TMI]] of download a digital copy (from the same location) and print it yourself. (note delivery times in the UK may preclude ordering it).

Here is a useful checklist that you can duplicate and use to track the paperwork. (Do File -> Make a copy).

I created a ring binder with all of the paperwork in - and attached a copy of the checklist to the front.

I would also print the contest checksheets from Andy O'Sullivan.
The key ones are:

Find some key volunteers

The three key people you need to find as soon as possible are your Contest Chairs (one can do both if needed) and your Chief Judge - the roles and responsibilities further down.

Next you need to find:

  • Ballot counters X 2
  • Time Keepers X 2
  • Sargent At Arms X 2
  • Judges (5+)

Finding Judges

Notes about finding judges:

  • You can try swapping judges with other clubs - try the 'GE and Speakers exchange WhatsApp group', or swapping within your Area.
  • Try and get judges committed early
  • Arrange more judges than you need, there will be last minute changes (there always are).
  • Judges need not be external to your club, if you wanted you can have all judges coming from in club (some would argue that is actually better as it is 'your' club members selecting their champion).
  • Finding a tie-breaking judge is the responsibility of the Chief Judge
  • Judges are anonymous
  • Above club level there are minimum requirements for judges qualifications.

Get trained

District 91 regularly runs contest workshops in the run up to contest season - For both contest organisers and judges and contestants.

Get contestant information

If you are at club level, you will be finding contestants from within the club. Find them, capture the info you need.

At Area and above the contestant information will feed up from the previous round (e.g. club for area).


Once you know the key people and contestants, you can print the agenda - a template one was given earlier in the documents section.

Running the contest


Closing Notes

N.b. The key to a good contest is working hard to ensure that the contest is fair in all aspects. Ensuring that contestants do not get unfair handling (introductions, access to judges, stage time). There are limits to what can be achieved, esp at club level.

A second key item is that (especially at club level), most requirements are 'if possible', I.e. if you cannot find 5 judges or have other issues, then go for it. Be fair and stick to the rules as much as reasonably possible but do not stress too much.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License