Thoughts on Toastmasters Speech Contests Judges

Recently, a fellow Toastmaster member shared with me that he is not taking parting in the coming Club Speech Contests. The reason is that he wanted to judge in Speech Contests. He further shared proudly that during last contests in which he judged, his placing was very close to the result.

When I first started to judge in Speech Contest, I always tally my placing with the result. If my placing is close to the result, I would feel proud of my judgment. However, if my placing is way off the result, I would question my judgment. Is there any problem with my judgment?

As years go by, I had taken up the role judge and chief judge for many speech contests ranging from Club, Area, Division and up to District levels. I have the opportunities to observe and analyze many competitive speeches. I also have the opportunities to observe other many other judges’ placing when I was the chief judge. I had noticed how varied the judges had put their placing.

These experiences had given me a new perspective on Speech Contest judging. Toastmasters International has a clearly defined listing of judging criteria for speech contests. In International Speech Contest, Speech Content carries the heaviest allocation, followed by Delivery and Language used.

Every judge votes to the best of their ability to eliminate biasness, perception. However, there are many factors which contribute on how a judge places their points. These factors include the judge’s background, preference and knowledge. The contest rule book also further defined the minimum number of judges at different level to minimize the biasness of the judges.

I learned that, how difference people judge contest speeches despite of the clearly defined judging criteria. The most important is that, we did our best as putting our past perception away, and judge as objective as we can.

During my most recent speech contest judging, only one out of my three placing was placed. In fact, I already guessed how other judges had placed their votes. I had voted as objectively as I can, just like the other judges in the contest. The main thing was, we had different perspective which differed in the way we judged.

What matter most was not how close was our placing with the placing, but how we had put our votes. We judged the Speech Contests to the best of our ability; the result would up the majority votes.

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