by Dr. Prince Motiani, DTM

With all the Leadership Institutes and Officer Training behind us, now is the time for the contests. Life doesn’t stop at Toastmasters: we just keep on and on and on and on and on… that reminds me of a song.

Let’s hunker down to the business at hand! In the past, I’ve shared contest judging forms. Today, I’ll give a rough idea of how judges should ideally fill out their ballots and how contestants succeed at contests.

JUDGES

First, let’s talk about the judges and their limitations of influence. Take note that the message of the speech and its clarity are key components of the marking process.

The authenticity of the speaker will influence one way or the other. If body language is non-committal and vocal projection non-coherent, the speaker’s credibility is lowered, and subsequently the judges’ marks.

The one thing that judges are incessantly told is to ONLY judge the renditions of the day. Baggage of reputation nor other past feats should cloud their judgement. If a [generally] good speaker is not on song during the contest, they shouldn’t be cut any slack. The most prolific author of smart quotes, Anonymous, said, “Don’t practice until you get it right; practice until you cannot get it wrong.”

CONTESTANTS

From the contestant’s perspective, a clear message in a beautifully told story will keep your crowd enthralled, utilizing body language and vocal projection to emphasize the salient markers of your rendition. Many figures of speech and rhetorical devices are available to the speaker. Google can provide scores of examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s useful to know what you should do, but also what you should avoid at any price. How the judges will mark contestants is not in the contestants’ hands.

A former mathematics teacher once told me: “You will only grasp the logic of the formula when you are ready to seize it. In every other case, I might as well be singing the male’s lines of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ to a cow and expect it to respond to me with the lady’s lines.”

And then there’s Lady Luck. I wish you good luck and may the best speech be crowned with ongoing, consistent success.

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Lisa Duncan

I’m almost convinced to participate in a contest…