What's new in the 2020/2021 Speech Contest Rulebook?

What is NEW in the 2020 2021 Speech Contest Rulebook
Original photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash


With the publication of Toastmasters International Speech Contest Rulebook 2020/2021, heralds a new contest cycle. What has changed compared to the 2019/2020 Rulebook? This article seeks to explore and address that. 

What changed?


2. In addition, to be eligible to compete in the International Speech Contest, a member must:

a) Have completed six (6) speech projects in the Competent Communication manual or earned certificates of completion in Levels 1 and 2 of any path in the Toastmasters Pathways learning experience.

1. However, a charter member of a club chartered less than one (1) year before the club contest is permitted to compete without having completed this requirement. The club must have officially chartered before the Area contest.

2. Only members who joined Toastmasters prior to the rollout of Pathways in their region can apply speeches from the Competent Communication manual to speech contest eligibility.

The bold portion is on page 6 of the 2020/2021 rulebook. When Pathways hasn't been fully rolled out, members can choose which to apply but now the rule is clear that you cannot use apply speeches from Competent Communication manual to speech contest eligibility if you joined after the rollout. 

4.Speech Subject and Preparation

E. Contestants must not reference another contestant, or a speech presented by another contestant, from the platform at the same contest in which they are competing.

The whole clause above is new. Basically what this rule means is that you cannot "build on the success" of another contestant. There is a technique where a contestant referred to the points from another contestant to emphasize his or her own speech. This is a very clever strategy because the speaker can capitalise on the shared reality created by the other speaker. This is obviously advantageous to those who speak later so it is good to see TI add this rule. 

7. Protests and Disqualifications

A. Protests are limited to eligibility, originality, and reference to another contestant’s speech and must only be lodged by voting judges and/or contestants. Any protest must be lodged with the chief judge and/or contest chair prior to the announcement of the winner(s) and alternate(s).

C. Before a contestant can be disqualified on the basis of originality, or for referencing another contestant’s speech, the contestant must be given an opportunity to respond to the voting judges. A majority of the voting judges must concur in the decision to disqualify

While the protest procedures are the same, they have added "reference(ing) to another contestant's speech" into both clauses. I've added this so that contestants could know what to do should any participants violated that rule. 

International Speech Contest Rules

E. Every participant in the World Championship of Public Speaking must present an entirely new and different speech than the one presented during that year's semifinal speech contest or any previous year's semifinal and final-round speech contests.

1. Winners advancing to the semifinal level at the International Convention will prepare and deliver to World Headquarters outlines of their semifinal speech. If they have previously competed at the semifinal or final levels, contestants will provide World Headquarters with outlines from all speeches presented at these levels. Outlines from all semifinal winners will be given to qualifying judges before or during the judges’ briefing for the World Championship of Public Speaking.

For all World Champion of Public speaking hopefuls out there, if you've made it to the semifinals and above, please ensure you have the outline of your past speeches with you. If it is your first time qualifying, please keep the record of your speeches so that you can produce it during the contest and focus on the competition. 


While the objective of giving a speech is to give something of value to our audiences. Competitions are where we give that give and also sharpen our skills. Rules exist to ensure that we are all competing fairly so reviewing the rules and regulations before your competition is a wise move. Good luck with your competition. 


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