Webinar Contest Rules (Updated for 2024)

The Webinar Contest is designed to test the skills required to host a webinar or deliver an online presentation, taking advantage of the virtues of the online format and overcoming its limitations.

The webinar contest is not an official Toastmasters contest format, and clubs and districts are welcome to modify and improve on this format.

Much as a standard speech contest tests who can deliver the best “keynote” in a compressed, 7-minute format, the webinar contest is the equivalent for an online presentation where part of the speaker’s challenge is to create audience engagement, potentially address questions,  and close with some sort of “call to action.”

See the replay of the OP’s own contest for 2023 and the invitational event for non-members that followed. For our next contest, both members and non-members will be welcome to compete.

Entering the January 15, 2024 Contest

The January 15 contest will be open to both members and non-members, with judges drawn from outside of the club. The contest is limited to six contestants. If more than six entries are received, the judges will pick 6 speakers to compete live based on a video submitted by the contestant. You can enter now and add or update your speech video submission up to one week before the contest. The recorded speech need not be the same one you plan to deliver at the live event.

The contest will be closed to further entries on Friday January 5 or after 10 entries are received, whichever comes first. Update: as of December 21, we already have 9 entries. To enter, fill out the RSVP form, checking the option that says you want to compete.

How the Contest Is Organized

Speech Format: The general timing guidelines will be follow the standard speech contest format. Any Q&A must fit within the 5-7 minute time limit. A chat monitor will be available to assist the speaker with tracking feedback from the audience. It is up to the speaker to decide whether to ask for the chat monitor’s help.

The Timer should interrupt any speaker who goes past 8 minutes to keep the event as a whole on time. This is contrary to the standard rule that no signal should be given if a contestant is disqualified for time, but it may be necessary given that online speakers sometimes run over time for technical reasons such as losing track of the webcam image from the timer.

If you are not competing, be sure to come ready to be a good audience with lively questions for our contestants. Audience members are encouraged to keep their cameras on and actively participate in the chat.

Audience members will be required to mute themselves during the presentation, so any feedback the speaker gets will need to come through the chat, visual feedback from audience members (such as a thumbs up), or another online method such as a poll or Zoom reaction buttons.

The Chat Monitor, a member of the contest team appointed to monitor the chat feed, will be available to assist the speaker with monitoring questions and feedback entered in the chat. Contestants are responsible for letting the chat monitor know whether they want assistance and, if so, whether to interrupt with questions during their presentation or save them until the end.

Speeches for this contest should also include some sort of call to action, whether it’s a sales pitch or an appeal to take some sort of political or moral or personal development action.

In our version, the contest may not necessarily follow standard Toastmasters contest practices such as the anonymity of judges.

Voting Procedure

Consider using the online voting / vote counting app available at contest.toastmost.org and built into Toastmost / WordPress for club websites.

A printable version of the judging sheet is available for download. Even if you use the online system, judges should have a printout handy as a backup.

The Chief Judge should prepare contingency plans for communication with judges in case of any sort of technology failure.

Here is the printable Word document version of the ballot.

Webinar Contest Scoring

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

Speech Development is the way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. The speech is structured around a purpose, and this structure must include an opening, body and conclusion. A good speech immedi­ately engages the audience’s attention and then moves forward toward a significant conclusion. This development of the speech structure is supported by relevant examples and illustrations, facts and figures, delivered with such smoothness that they blend into the framework of the speech to present the audience with a unified whole.

Audience Engagement is a score for how well the speaker engaged the audience through the chat or other means. This includes how well the speaker handled the time management challenge of fitting in time for Q&A or other interaction, as well as the quality of the interaction.

Speech Value justifies the act of speaking. The speaker has a responsibility to say something meaningful and original to the audience. The listeners should feel the speaker has made a contribution to their thinking. The ideas should be important ones, although this does not preclude a humorous presentation of them.

Call to Action is a clear statement of what the presenter wants the audience to do following the presentation – buy a product, vote in an election, or change their life in some way. How clear was the desired outcome?

Visual Presentation includes all the elements conveyed through video, including body language and the use of slides or other content shared onscreen.

Voice is the sound that carries the message. It should be flexible, moving from one pitch level to another for emphasis, and should have a variety of rate and volume. A good voice can be clearly heard and the words easily understood.

Manner is the indirect revelation of the speaker’s real self as the speech is delivered. The speaker should speak with enthu­siasm and assurance, showing interest in the audience and confidence in their reactions.

Combined in our scoring are: Appropriateness of language refers to the choice of words that relate to the speech purpose and to the particular audi­ence hearing the speech. Language should promote clear understanding of thoughts and should fit the occasion precisely. Correctness of language ensures that attention will be directed toward what the speaker says, not how it is said. Proper use of grammar and correct pronunciation will show that the speaker is the master of the words being used.