Toastmasters International

Rod Taylor, District 74 Chief Judge writes

Who is qualified to judge?[]

I recently received a query concerning the qualifications necessary to judge at Toastmasters speech contests. I thought the answer might be of general interest, so here it is. I’ve added some information on the minimum number of judges required.

Most of the information concerning contests can be found in the appropriate year’s Speech Contest Manual and Speech Contest Rulebook. The rulebook states: “Additional information on speech contests may be found in the Speech Contest Manual. This rulebook controls all decisions regarding contests. The comments in the Speech Contest Manual and training materials are intended to give guidance but are not rules.”

So, the rules are the rules and the rest is guidance.

For insight into how to judge, see an acclaimed 30 minute video by Acreddited speaker Ross Mackay, DTM. This film deals with the reality of contest judging. [1]

Rules for different contests are different[]

Further, even in the rules, Rule 2 of the International Speech Contest reads: “These rules, unless otherwise noted, apply to all Toastmasters Speech contests which select contestants for the International Speech Contest, which is conducted in English only. These rules may not be supplanted or modified, and no exceptions may be made.”

This rule is conspicuously absent from the rules of the other four contests. The inference is that it may be possible to supplant or modify the rules for the other contests, (which never go beyond District) and that exceptions to the rules of these contests might be possible.

Having said that, I’m a strong believer in sticking to the principles as well as the letter of the rules and wouldn’t readily condone modifications or exceptions.

The rules are silent on who qualifies to be a judge[]

As for qualifications of judges…. The rules are silent on the subject and, as indicated above, everything else is guidance. The Speech Contest Manual states (recommends!) that judges should be members in good standing. The speech Contest Manual continues with recommendations couched in vagaries such as ‘insofar as is practical’ and ‘if practical’.

There are recommendations, however[]

The relevant section reads: ” The judges should be members in good standing. Insofar as is practical, all judges at Area, Division, District, Region, and International speech contests should have been a Toastmasters member in good standing since July 1 of the previous year and have completed at least six Communication and Leadership manual projects. In addition, if practical, at Regional and International contests, judges should be at least an Able Toastmaster or Advanced Toastmaster Bronze and have previously judged a Toastmasters speech contest at Area Division, District, or Regional level.”

Note that club contests are not even mentioned! In summary, there are NO absolute requirements in terms of qualifications for judges.

I would advise very strongly against using non-members as judges. Quantity is much more important than experience when it comes to judging. I would rather see nine judges from C&L2 to C&L5 than three or four DTMs. (that doesn’t mean that DTMs don’t make good judges!!!) Ideally, the judges should be demographically representative of the audience and sufficient in number to represent a valid statistical sample.

There is a minimum number required[]

Note that the NUMBER of judges is specified in the rulebook. For Club contests, in addition to a Chief Judge and a Tiebreaker Judge, at least five judges are required. This requirement is ‘as far as practical’ at Club level, but is a requirement (not a recommendation) for Area, Division and District contests.

The requirements are slightly different for the International Speech Contest, where, for Division and District contests, in addition to a Chief Judge and a Tiebreaker Judge at least seven judges are required.

Rod Taylor District 74 Chief Judge

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