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Breaking the Rules – Speeches by Management #5

Houston, we have a problem!  Tis not as bad as the Apollo 13 incident but neither are we NASA.  However, according to  the 2016/7 speech contest rulebook says a club contest needs to have :

Contest chair, Chief judge, at least five Voting judges, Tiebreaker judge, Three counters, Two timers.  This list is followed by “unless impractical”.

The rulebook has the same requirements for area contest officials, except the term ‘unless impractical’ is not suggested. Instead of “five voting judges, we need “an equal number of voting judges from each club in the area, or a minimum of five voting judges”.  And, the chief, voting, and tie-breaking judges must all be members in good standing for at least six months and have completed six projects in the CC manual. 

That significantly restricts our ability in Area 42 to hold this contest.  So for the purpose of supporting our club contestants and in consultation with the chief judge, we have agreed to not enforce these rules … unless there is a majority   objection from the floor.

The plan we have endorsed should help us to achieve the right results that leave you, the audience and the contestants happy that we have delivered a fair and true contest.  The opportunity to compete and the find the Area 42 contestant for the Divisional Contest on the 16th October in Eastleigh is, after all, why we are all here! 

We believe the plan to be defensible, and fair, and in keeping with our values.  There are after all simply not enough people in this room with sufficient qualifications and we neither have the time nor the will to reschedule.  I am now going to describe how we see this working.


The mix of judges is very important.  While the rules might allow it, we never want to run a contest where all five voting judges come from one contestant’s club. 

So the plan is to ask all those who are Table Topics Speakers to judge the Humorous Speech Contest.  That gives us four judges, one from each club.  We cannot of course ask Dave Smith nor Michael Sones to judge as they are both participating in both contests.

The Humorous Speech speakers are asked to judge the Table Topics Contest. That gives us three judges, one each from Casterbridge, Hallmark and Chaseside.  Our chief judge, Gill Hale however, is from Ferndown.

Our Chief Judge will also take the role of Tie Breaker Judge.  Where we would normally keep this a secret, for the purposes of this decision I feel it is important you understand how we are covering the activities.

There are 1/3 judges who have not as yet completed 6 speeches from the CC Manual.  We say so be it.  What do you think?

I have asked both the Timekeeper and Ballot Counter each to cover both roles and a lapsed Toastmaster, Paul Hutchings has agreed to take the role of Sargeant at Arms.

This is not ideal, we’d rather have every role filled by a separate and fully-qualified person. But here in the real world, at Sturminster Marshall Golf Club, we make do with what we have.

In our opinion, the issue of fairness has to be the number one consideration in any contest, trumping even the rulebook when there’s a clear conflict.  Secondly, respect for the members who have given up their time to pit their skills against other Toastmasters and respect for those who have come to support them. 

So with these principles in mind, I propose to go ahead and brief the contestants and the audience together on what is expected from contestants.  I will then call upon Gill Hale to brief the judges and the audience with what is to be expected from the judges.

Those in favour please raise your hands now, those against please raise your hands.

We have a majority in favour let the contest begin and the best speeches win!

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