#Toastmasters Evaluation Contest—Being a Test Speaker

1. Introduction—my experience as a Test Speaker

This year I am involved in the Evaluation Contest in two ways, as a participant and in one of the supporting roles of the Contest. How is this possible without causing a conflict of interest?

I am a dual member, that is, a member of one club, my original home club, and then a second club which happens to be in a different Toastmasters Area within a different Division (but within the same District). In the Area of my home club, I participated in the Area Contest this past weekend.

I was asked by my second club, which is geared towards Project Managers, if I could enter their Speech Contest. I told them that I had already promised the Area Governor in my home club’s Area that I would enter the contest in that Area. You can’t compete in two different Areas within the same District, because if you happened to compete and win at the Area and then the Division level, you would be entered in the same District-wide contest in two different Divisions. (I checked with the District Governor on this point.)

I told the President of my second club that I couldn’t participate in their Contest for that reason. But then the Area Governor of that Club said, well that doesn’t prevent you from helping out at the second Area Contest by doing one of the support roles. So I agreed to help out with the second Area Speech Contest by being one of the Contest Masters, which is like being a Toastmaster, but at a Contest.

And then, after discussion with the President of my second Club, I agreed to be a Test Speaker for all of those who were in the Evaluation Contest. So I’m happy to be doing the best I can for both clubs, on different sides of the contest.

The purpose of this post is to explain why you would want to be a test speaker for an Evaluation Contest.

2. Test Speaker–why be one?

A test speaker gives a speech, usually either one that he or she is working on for one of the speech manuals that can count towards one of the communication awards. It can be one that you have already performed and earned credit for, as long as it is new for those enrolled in the Evaluation Contest.

You give your speech like you normally would, but then instead of one person from your club giving you an evaluation, all of the contestants of the Evaluation Contest give you an evaluation. Of course, you are helping the club by giving them a target speech for the evaluators to focus on.

But what’s in it for the Test Speaker?

You get the benefit of different people giving you their own view on what you do well, and what you can improve. This may seem simple, but you can’t underestimate the value of this. One of the amazing things about the Evaluation Contest is that the same people can watch one person’s speech and each come out with an insight that differs from everybody else’s.

I thought in the back of my mind that it would be valuable if I had all that feedback, and then this past week I was given a chance as I agreed to be the Test Speaker. Tonight I will see what the various Evaluators have to say and see if they agree or disagree on the strong points of my speech and, in general, my speaking style.

If you truly want to improve yourself, then having 5 people evaluate you is 5 times more valuable than having one person evaluate you. It’s simple math, and simply the best way for you to improve!

So the next time there is a contest, make it known to your Area Governor that you are available to be a Test Speaker. You shouldn’t be the Test Speaker in your home club Area, of course, but Area Governors do communicate with each other to help provide each other’s areas with quality Test Speakers, Contest Masters, and Judges for the contest.

So on to the contest tonight—at least being a Test Speaker has the advantage of not requiring as much preparation as being a contestant!


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