Project 10: Contest Chair

A big step up in responsibility, but one that I enjoyed overall. From a slow tentative interest we built the contest up to a full capacity (nearly 40) night that saw FIVE International Speech Contestants and THREE Evaluation Contestants with SIX visiting Toastmasters supporting the club.

The Results

A big huge WELL DONE to International Speech Contest Winner Becky P and Runner-Up Isaiah A AND TO Evaluation Contest Winner Amaia L A and Runner-Up Maxime B.

The best of Luck representing Cranfield Speakers at the Area 44 Competition On Saturday 29th of March, 1pm at the CMRI building on Cranfield Campus, and beyond.

The Speeches

  1. Isaiah A: “Why Worry?”
    When we worry we risk the spiralling pit falls of negativity and stress that worry can cause, so why indeed worry when in the words of Bobby Darin you can be happy.
  2. Amani O: “What’s wrong, what’s right?”
    The argument was put that it is never easy to be sure of what is right, it changes and it has context but that was no excuse for not always reflecting and trying to make the right choice.
  3. Becky P: “The battle for the bread”
    Becky entertained us to a gripping narrative and battle re-enactment, using a wheelie chair, of the shopping trip and the tussle of wills with her son’s desire for treats and cream doughnuts only to find the one coverted treat he obtained, the cream doughnut had gone past the till in pole position only to end up first in the trolley under the destructive weight of shopping above.
  4. Rosemarie C: “Feel the attitude”
    This was a talk about speaking and the passion to communicate that needs to lie, or should lie, beneath that.
  5. Karel N: “Faith”
    Karel explored the need to have faith in our own abilities and to believe in it to succeed, yet also to remain realistic and not get carried to extremes.

The mystery Target Speech for the Evaluation contest

Wanda G: “The golden girl.”
Wanda’s talk explored her fascination and awe with gold in things and rocks and turned that around to the discovery of the hidden gold within each of us and the potential for us to refine our golden gifts.

Contestants: Rosemarie C, Maxime B, and Amaia L A


At the club level of contests Tabletopics can be a handy time filler whilst the judging, scoring and evaluator note taking takes place. I initially ran with the “on this day in history” theme then went for a few additional old favourites.

  • (530 years ago) 1484 William Caxton printed his translation of Aesop’s Fables.
    Stephanie S told us she actually works for a printer and is preparing for an expo where the latest bits of kit are huge.
  • (91 years ago) 1923 BBC Radio started regular weather forecasts.
    Val S has never forgotten Michael Fish’s clanger of informing the public that we don’t get hurricanes in the UK. That very night we had gales that flattened big chunks of the British isles
  • (41 years ago) 1973 Women were allowed on the floor of the London Stock Exchange for the first time in its 200 year history.
    Amani O told us that women can achieve anything they want now, the sky is the limit. A few more lady prime-ministers and presidents would be very good.
  • (33 years ago) 1981 Four Labour defectors, known as the Gang of Four, launched the Social Democrats party.
    John D concluded with that his political party would affirm that the British way was better than the American way.
  • (175 years ago) 1839 The Henley Regatta was born to attarct tourists.
    Rosemarie C gave us her plans to put Newport Pagnell, with its two rivers, on the map with a Regatta – a word that has loads of cachet amongst overseas tourist.
  • If you could travel to any period in time?
    Ian C described how he was tempted to be Henry VII, have a dozen wives and behead the tiresome ones or Louis XIX and live in opulence and splendour. What he would love to settle on is being a cowboy in the wild west who could shoot up the wrong doers.
  • If you could have any super human power?
    Daniel S described how he really needed strength to help contain the equally physical tantrums of his 6 year old autistic spectrum disorder child, a child apt to say “No, Not me, No way, Never!” in most situations. However, what he really wanted was the power to communicate to his son.
  • Red and Dog?
    Becky P responded to this random colour and object by saying she was scared of red, which means danger, but dogs are  loveable and adorable. She is definitely a dog [loving] girl  more than she is a cat woman.

The Awards & Recognition

The club recognised and thanked the visiting Toastmasters who had supported the club by taking on a role with small chocolate gifts from Roccco Chocolatiers of London.

The club recognised the contest participants with a certificate of participation. My wife, Stephanie, and her mum used calligraphy to name each certificate. They used a Gothic script.

The final act of the night was to thank all of those who worked in a role, such as timekeepers, counters, ushers, sergeant at arms.


Much pre-planning to get things organised. Pays to get a chief judge appointed early with good connections outside of the club. Takes a while to get people motivated. I made my first visits to other clubs to see how contests work and to raise profile of Cranfield Speakers in the locality to get a few return visits. You need a lot of goodwill from people to man all the roles. It can go big as people draw in their friends! Trophies need to be ordered. Contestants need chance to read the rules and study the judging criteria. I have to thank Susie B for doing such a comprehensive job digesting everything down into check lists and briefing sheets.

What might work better.

  1. The earlier promotion of the concepts of the competitions and the relaxation of the eligibility rules at club level may have given people more confidence to engage with it sooner.
  2. An Evaluation educational speech earlier in the student year to give members a stronger grasp on evaluating.
  3. I needed to appreciate the delayed network break whilst the counting was done because there was no independent private area except the kitchen
  4. I also needed to better organise the flow of results onto certificates. Say, …Chief judge signs them, then president and then at the awards the Contest Chair is briefed by both.
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