Webinar Contest April 20, 2020 — How it Works

Following up from our recent Video Speech contest, Online Presenters is preparing for its April 20 webinar contest (register to attend as a guest).

There are a couple of differences between the Webinar Contest and the Video Speech Contest:

  • The Video Speech Contest is an official contest covered by Toastmasters International rules. It’s essentially a version of the International Speech Contest for clubs that operate outside a district structure (as 100% online clubs do because they are not anchored to the geography of any one district).
  • The Webinar Contest (or Mini-Webinar Contest) is our own invention, designed to test skills specific to the online format.

I think of the International Speech Contest (and, by extension, the Video Speech Contest) as a 5-7 minute keynote speech. Winning speeches typically include a mix of humor, storytelling, and inspiration.

The Webinar Contest is a 6-8 minute webinar, which tests the speaker’s ability to use online presentation tools effectively, respond to questions submitted via chat, and close with a strong call to action. Think of it as a miniature webinar designed to sell the audience on a product, cause, or idea. We follow most of the usual Toastmasters contest rules and procedures, but for example have relaxed the traditional anonymity of judges to allow participation from Celebrity Guest Judges Mimi Brown and Roger Courville, who in addition to voting will give some professional feedback to contestants at the end of the event.

The rules, spelled out in a 2018 blog post, include a scoring scheme that starts with the categories from the International Speech Contest but inserts a couple of webinar-specific ones such as audience engagement and call to action.

Webinar Contest Scoring

 Max score
Speech Development15
Audience Engagement15
Speech Value15
Call to Action15
Total Possible Score100

To simulate a common webinar experience, each contestant is challenged to respond (briefly) to questions submitted via chat. Speakers have the option of monitoring the chat themselves or asking for help from the chat monitor, who will read or summarize a couple of questions submitted.

Snapshot of Sunny Fridge’s winning webinar speech from September 2018.

You can check out past webinar contests won by Sunny Fridge and Carol Prahinski for clues about what worked well in the past.

As an unofficial format, the webinar contest is “just for fun” — but perhaps something Toastmasters should consider refining and turning into an official contest format as the online environment becomes increasingly important.






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