(Take your Seat!)

Which Directors do you admire? Is it Spielberg, Hitchcock, Cameroon or someone else?

Whoever may be on your list, the art of coordinating and execution is the backbone of their well crafted stories.

Now, what if you too got to direct a movie? And LIVE! Wouldn’t that be something?

Toastmasters Speech Contests will afford you the same. Part live theatre, part pre-prepped action, you will help cast the roles (officials and contestants), layout the scenes (scripts), practice the flow (scene takes), and then call for action!

So how do we go about this?

In the District, the Contest Chair role is available at these 4 levels – Club Contest, Area Contest, Division Contest, and District Contest.

While the complexity may change between levels, here is something that all chairs have to manage –

  1. Finalize Contest Date/Time and location.
  2. Familiarize with the Contest Rule Book.
  3. Recruit Chief Judge/Timers/Ballot Counters/Sargent of Arms and other volunteers as needed.
  4. Support contestants and officials with their needs and any questions.
  5. Get Contestants Bio and Speech details.
  6. Confirm validity of contestants.
  7. Manage resource/budget requirements.
  8. Manage the actual contest.

As outlined in the list above, there are a lot of moving parts to a contest. There are also different projects in Pathways, which can be applied to your contribution as a Contest Chair.

So not only do you develop the skill and experience of a Contest Chair, you also get to complete a Pathways project simultaneously! That’s a great win-win!

Here are some of the Pathways Projects which can be applied to being a Contest Chair-

Level 1:

Introduction to Vocal Variety and Body Language

 (This new Level 1 project applies only to paths purchased after October 27, 2021)

Read more here.

Level 3:

Planning and Implementing

Successful Collaboration

Creating effective visual aids

Effective Body language

Understanding vocal variety

Using Presentation Software

Level 4:

Leading your Team

Manage online meetings

Manage projects successfully

Level 5:

High Performance Leadership

Lessons Learned

Here is the Project Matrix to refer to for the complete list: Pathways Project Matrix.

As you can see, there are plenty of projects available to you. You can also complete these projects in advance of reaching a level. For e.g., complete a Level 4 project while you are still in Level 2. Then the project will already be done by the time you get to that level!

Once you start thinking ahead – especially for those big projects, planning and execution will become much easier.

Toastmasters International and the District have a wealth of resources to help you in all stages of your planning such as –

  1. Contest Scripts
  2. Zoom Resources
  3. Training materials
  4. Online/physical contest considerations
  5. Contest Calendar and contacts

Here is a one-stop resource page where all the contest rules and guides are available:  Contest Resource Page

You must be now wondering, how do I get started as a Contest Chair?

  • For club contests, reach out to the Club President. They are always looking for someone with initiative! It’s also a great place to learn the basics of contests.

  • For Area and Division contests they are generally chaired by the Area and Division Directors. You can reach out to them and ask if they need help and assistance of a co-chair. If they do, you can manage part of the contest and still complete a Pathways project!

  • For District Contest, please reach out to the Program Quality Director.

There is also a counterpart to the Contest Chair role – and that is of a Contest Master!
While the Contest Chair is the Director, the Contest Master is the conductor – the Emcee (Master of Ceremonies) during the event.

Based on preference, Contest Chair can also be the Contest Master, or it can be done by two different people.

Are you now ready to call Action?

Pull out the Director’s Chair, and take your seat!

The entries in this blog are the opinions of their respective authors. These opinions are not authorized by, endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with Toastmasters International.
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Preeti Venkataramani

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