Virtual Contests in 2021 – What has changed?

Virtual Contests in 2021 – What has changed?

by Greg Pick, DTM District Chief Judge

The pandemic changed how we participate in our Toastmasters meetings – contests are not excluded.  The Table Topics and International Speech contests in District 25 will be conducted virtually.  In addition to the highlights below, more details on the contest roles in a virtual environment can be found here on the Contest Resources page.  Inquiring minds want to know what major changes can we expect at a virtual contest?  You can expect the following:

Zoom Logistics

  • The contest zoom master (a new role for our virtual contest environment) will create a minimum of two breakout rooms for the Contest Chair and the Contest Chief Judge briefings, respectively.
  • Contestants, Toastmaster, the Sergeant at Arms, Contest Chair, and contest chief judge will rename themselves
  • The zoom master will assign the various role holders to the appropriate breakout rooms.
  • The Judges, Timers, and Ballot Counters will be briefed by the Contest Chief Judge.
  • The Contest Chief Judge and the timer with the indicating background or cards will rename themselves. The judges, ballot counters, and second timer will remain anonymous.
  • Zoom will be used to take a screenshot that highlights the winners with the Contest Dignitaries that includes the certificate in a shared screen.
  • Zoom will be used to take a screenshot that highlights the contestants with the Contest Toastmaster.

Rules Changes

Each year Toastmasters International publishes a new rule book with changes to ensure fair competitive contests.  All the changes for this year can be found in the current rulebook.

The following rule changes have occurred related to the Table Topics and International Speech contests that we want to highlight related to eligibility and competition/protests.


When competing (Section 2.A.2.a).2) or judging as (Section 2.A.5) “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.”  This applies to the International Speech contest only. Table Topics contestants need only meet the general eligibility requirements.


When competing, as described in Section 4.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.”  If a contestant does reference another contestant or speech from the same platform then the offence can be protested.  As specified in:

  • Section 7.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).”
  • Section 7.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.”