I got StageTime – and tried something for 1st time

Toastmasters District 60 has an online system where clubs can request speakers and evaluators to come to their club as visitors and fill a role called StageTime2.

A few days ago I applied online for the advertised vacant speaker slot.

Today, at SALUT (The UT is University of Toronto) club when they had an empty 2nd speaker slot and expected slightly lower attendance at end of term and holiday season approaching, I did a Part 1 speech of Evaluation and Feedback in Presentation Mastery path.

There were nine members – all roles were filled, the small, yes, intimate setting was warm and welcoming. The club also had a member do a Pathways IceBreaker today.

My speech was informational and I tried something I have never done before. After my opening I had the audience vote which of two themes they wanted me to proceed with – the scientific or the social/ethical side of the story of Henrietta Lacks.

The vote was 5-4 for the ethical/social side of the tale. I got lots of written feedback and a great oral evaluation by a member doing his first Pathways speech evaluation.

If you are in Toronto I highly recommend visiting Salut Toastmasters, if you are in District 60, I highly recommend making use of StageTime2, and to all I challenge you to try the “audience votes” for the thrust of the speech approach some time!

A value added TI Education award report

Yes, I wish TI would consider enhancing their dashboard reports – by adding column filtering and column specific searches (so people did not need to download reports and run spreadsheet software on their phones to do that) – and by adding optional versions with some summary data/calculations included.

I made up one example: The Education awards for a District, my example includes a little table at the top which shows how many of each award are in the report – divided into traditional and Pathways awards too.

Why, because some people are interested in the “uptake” of Pathways in their District or other Districts. This data can help them see something about that

Of course, in 3 years the traditional awards will be gone from the report 0- until then – or until TI includes this kind of added data – enjoy the report here – just select the district of interest and click report:


are there other TI dashboard reports you can suggest value-added changes to?

How will meetings change in pathways? part 1 of ?

All these blog posts are my opinion, unofficial and I may change my mind at any time 🙂

From what I have seen in Pathways so far in Levels 1-4 … I see few changes in how Toastmasters meetings are held, the agenda etc.

What I can see is a possible new set of challenges to filling roles and the types of extra-meeting activities that need to be done….

Let’s face it, now the vast majority (TI says 90 %) of members do not even finish a CC under the current program
So we would be reasonable to expect that majority (51 %)will not finish Levels 1-3…

Level 1 + 2 + 3 = one role as speech evaluator plus about 10 speeches (although one speech project elective could be as TableTopics Master commenting to each Topics speaker) – no matther what path(s) one chooses
And Levels 1 and 2 are identical except for maybe one project, depending on path ….

What does this (maybe) mean for meetings?

+ Ice Breaker(s) from all members – including experienced members when they start Pathways.
—  And for anyone pursuing a DTM that plural “Breakers” applies – they need to do *two* Icebreakers – one on each path they do…

– Evaluator is a required role once for each level 1 – that might make that role easier to fill than the others like Grammarian, Time, TopicsMaster, TMOD which (apart from Active Listening elective for TopicsMaster) get no credit in Pathways.
For clubs who ignore the CL manual now, this won’t amount to much of a change in role-filling incentives…

– TopicsMaster might be giving feedback – The Active Listening project is different from Table Topics Evaluator, and if your club only usually has 3 or  topics speakers, … you may need to occasionally change that to support the member doing this elective in level 3. (Probably 5-7 topics speakers or more is best for this)

I will address the many outside the meeting activities in coming posts….


Toastmasters Pathways – 61 evaluation guides….

Each Pathways project, each required course and each elective has it’s own project guide and evaluation resource.
Compared to evaluation guides in the CC and Advanced Communications Manuals, Pathways evaluation forms are much more standardized.

These standard Evaluation Criteria are common, rating each category from 1-5 in standard categories
Included in Almost All (

  •  Persuasive Speaking does not include any of these
  • Understanding Vocal Variety is completely unique
    I am still reviewing and may find more exceptions)

Categories included in 95% of all evaluations:

  • Clarity
  • Vocal Variety
  • Eye Contact
  • Comfort Level

Also Included in Most  (over 80%) project Evaluation Guides

  • Gestures
  • Audience Awareness
  • Interest

In addition 0, 1 or 2 other Evaluation Criteria custom sections are included for each project
A common one of these is “Topic” – though the meaning of 1,2,3,4,5 varies with the project

You can see which evaluation criteria are used in each project and access all the evaluation guides here:

Sample content from evaluation guide Criteria page:

“This criteria lists the specific goals and expectations for the speech. Please review each level to help you complete

the evaluation.

5 – Is an exemplary public speaker who is always understood
4 – Excels at communicating using the spoken word
3 – Spoken language is clear and is easily understood
2 – Spoken language is somewhat unclear or challenging to understand
1 – Spoken language is unclear or not easily understood

Vocal Variety
5 – Uses the tools of tone, speed, and volume to perfection
4 – Excels at using tone, speed, and volume as tools
3 – Uses tone, speed, and volume as tools
2 – Use of tone, speed, and volume requires further practice
1 – Ineffective use of tone, speed, and volume

Eye Contact
5 – Uses eye contact to convey emotion and elicit response
4 – Uses eye contact to gauge audience reaction and response
3 – Effectively uses eye contact to engage audience
2 – Eye contact with audience needs improvement
1 – Makes little or no eye contact with audience

5 – Fully integrates physical gestures with content to deliver an exemplary speech
4 – Uses physical gestures as a tool to enhance speech
3 – Uses physical gestures effectively
2 – Uses somewhat distracting or limited gestures
1 – Uses very distracting gestures or no gestures

Audience Awareness
5 – Engages audience completely and anticipates audience needs
4 – Is fully aware of audience engagement/needs and responds effectively
3 – Demonstrates awareness of audience engagement and needs
2 – Audience engagement or awareness of audience requires further practice
1 – Makes little or no attempt to engage audience or meet audience needs

Comfort Level
5 – Appears completely self-assured with the audience
4 – Appears fully at ease with the audience
3 – Appears comfortable with the audience
2 – Appears uncomfortable with the audience
1 – Appears highly uncomfortable with the audience

5 – Fully engages audience with exemplary, well-constructed content
4 – Engages audience with highly compelling, well-constructed content
3 – Engages audience with interesting, well-constructed content
2 – Content is interesting but not well-constructed or is well-constructed but not interesting
1 – Content is neither interesting nor well-constructed

5 – Delivers an exemplary speech about … (project specific)
4 – Delivers a compelling speech about … (project specific)
3 – … (project specific)
2 – Mentions some… (project specific)
1 – Speaks on a topic other than … (project specific)

Gracefully Handling a contest protest (originality)

Although protests for originality in Toastmasters speech contests may be rare, it would be nice to have rules/guidelines on how they are best handled.

I could not find an official guide to handling a protest for originality in a Toastmasters speech contest, so here are my initial suggestions.
THESE ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT OFFICIAL! They are also a first draft. How would you improve them?

(I am not sure anyone if anyone could claim the individual did not “… alone prepared [their] speech …” so this addresses only protests of originality)

1. Anyone in attendance may believe that a contest speech is not “substantially original”. (From the 2104 speech contest rulebook: “Twenty-five percent or less of the speech may be devoted to quoting, paraphrasing, or referencing another person’s content. Any quoted, paraphrased, or referenced content must be so identified during the speech presentation.”)
Although protests may only be lodged by contestants and judges, anyone may request to speak with the (identified to everyone) chief judge or contestant and present the information specifying the published source of what they think is the original and uncredited source of a substantial part of the speech.
Note: Only contestants and judges may file a protest! If they receive compelling information that a speech is not original, it is their duty to file a protest.

2. The chief judge (or contestant or judge who is protesting or received the protest information from an audience member) would write down the evidence presented to them by any person, whether a contestant, judge or audience member.

NOTE: a protest can ONLY be filed by a contestant or judge – but a contestant or judge they may decide to file a protest if they receive evidence from someone who is not a contestant or judge. This is allowed, despite the fact that judges identify is not openly publicized. Most likely someone would tell a contestant to file the protest, since they have a strong interest in the contest being judged fairly and the rules followed fairly.

3. The contestant or judge officially lodging the protest with the Chief judge presents the evidence to the chief judge verbally and be given some time (maximum 10 minutes) to prepare a written originality protest. The Chief Judge informs the Contest Chair that a protest is being lodged and that some time is required.

3a. If the contestant has been disqualified for time, the chief judge ends the protest process here.

4. If the evidence alleged is not available in writing at the contest (this is probably close to 99% likely) a web search via computer or mobile phone could be done. Bear in mind that not all information on the web is accurate. The chief judge could allow an additional 10 minutes for this online research.
The contest chair is to be advised if this time is required.

5. All evidence collected is to be duplicated/photocopied if possible, with enough copies of the written protest and any printed evidence/references for each judge and the challenged contestant.

6. The chief judge convenes the judges and the challenged contestant in a private area. The chief judge chairs the meeting and maintains control (including passing control of who is the speaker and time limits.) The Chief judge reads the written protest and distribute copies (if available) to all judges and the challenged contestant. All attendees are given “adequate” time to review any written material. Do NOT include or identify the tie-breaking judge – they are NOT of this process.

7. The contestant is given 3 minutes to orally make their case defending their speech as substantially original. If they chose to withdraw from the contest, that is done in front of the chief judge and the convened judges at the meeting in progress. If the challenged contestant has already left the contest meeting for the duration of the contest and is not available, the process should be completed without them present.

8. The judges are then given 3 minutes (total) to question the contestant if desired.

9. The Chief Judge asks all judges if any of them prefers a written ballot. If ANY judge requests a written ballot, then all voting done by having each judge take a piece of paper, print their name, sign their name and write “Contestant Disqualified” or “Contestant OK” on their paper. The Chief Judge collects the ballots, tallies them and announces the results to the judges. One judge is selected to audit the counting.The Chief Judge  does NOT get a vote.

If ALL judges agree to oral vote, the judge polls the judges for an oral Yes/No vote on the protest. Each judge gets one vote and may abstain. If a majority of the judges (more than half) vote for the disqualification, the contestant is disqualified. There is no requirement to inform anyone, audience or contestants about any originality protests filed, voted on or enforced.

10. If the Contestant is disqualified, the chief judge revises the final standings of the contestants.

From TI judges training pdf:
“If the Contestant is disqualified, the contest chair will notify the contestant of the disqualification prior to that announcement before the meeting at which the contest took place is adjourned.”

This process needs to be done in the event of a protest no matter what the results of the voting are.
This process is not to be skipped because someone believes that “it doesn’t matter in the results”. There are many cases where runners-up further down and the top three have been eligible to compete in the further rounds of contests.
Of course all protests on originality must be done before the results are announced.