Contest Season begins!

Greetings, fellow Toastmasters!

The first time I attended a speech contest, I was amazed at the courage and skills each contestant showed.  The best moved forward from our club to the Area contest.  I was even more amazed at the Area contest, and by the time I attended my first Division and District speech contest, I was in complete awe of the skills each person had gained through their time in Toastmasters.  I was inspired by the creative, engaging, and meaningful ideas shared by the contestants, oftentimes spiced with humor at just the right spots.   This year, I find myself in a new role as your District Chief Judge.

This Year’s Contest Sequence

As of October 15, 2023 we are now in club contest season. Between now and December 10, 2023, clubs should be hosting contests in the Evaluation and International contests using the 2023-2024 Toastmasters Speech Contest Rulebook. Speech contests are one of the ways that contestants and audience members alike can improve their speaking skills — and how all Toastmasters can grow as organizers, leaders, and team-members.

Once the club contest results are finalized, we’ll go through three additional levels of competition:

  • Area Contests will take place in-person between December 11, 2023 and February 10, 2024. Locations will be listed below. (results here)
  • Division Contests will take place in-person between February 11, 2024 and March 31, 2024. Locations will be listed below. (results here)
  • The District Contests will take place in-person at the District Conference, with a date still to be determined.

At this point the Evaluation contest will end, with the best evaluator in District 53 taking top honors at the District Conference.

The victor in the International Contest will proceed to the Region Quarterfinals, competing against the district winners in the northeastern US, Quebec, and Maritime Canada. If our champion succeeds there, they’ll advance to the semifinals round of the World Championship of Public Speaking® at the Toastmasters International Convention in August 2024.

Rules Adjustments

Each year, District 53 must decide on a few rules-changes. This year, Rule 3.B on Selection Sequence is in effect:

  • If an Area has four (4) assigned clubs or fewer in good standing, two (2) contestants from each club are allowed to compete in each Area contest (Evaluation and International). This rule currently applies to:
    • In Division A: Area 11 and Area 15
    • In Division B: Area 21, Area 23, Area 25
    • In Division C: Area 31, Area 33, Area 34, Area 35
    • In Division D: Area 41, Area 42, Area 44
    • In Division E: Area 54, Area 55
  • In Divisions with four or fewer assigned Areas, the two (2) highest-placed available contestants from each Area contest are eligible to compete.
    • This currently applies to Division D
    • Each Area contest in Division D will send its two highest-placed available contestants to the Division D contest
  • Only one contestant from each Division will advance to the District contests in any case.

Resources and Training

I want to inspire each one of you to consider taking one of the following actions to experience the benefits of speech contests:

  • Attend Speech Contests to experience meaningful and entertaining content, observe excellent evaluations, and witness the results of our fellow members’ hard work applying their skills gained in Toastmasters.
  • Assist Your Fellow Members by learning how to conduct excellent speech contests, and then conducting excellent speech contests so that the contestants can focus on their goals.
  • Accelerate Your Growth by competing in a speech contest.  You will be amazed at how fast you will develop your skills in a short time.

To aid your preparation for speech contests, resources are available at Speech Contests Resources of the District 53 website. We will also provide a speech contest seminar planned for October 30th at 7pm, [Zoom link here] where we will discuss questions you have about speech contests.

After accelerating your growth as a contestant or assisting your fellow members as a functionary, or attending at least one speech contest as an audience member, bring back those skills gained and those ideas you heard and enjoy the benefits in your own clubs and in your own lives!!!!!

I look forward to meeting you and being inspired by your speeches, your assistance, and your attendance.  It is an honor to be your District Chief Judge this year.

Please feel free to contact me at with any questions.

Beth Van Kempen
District 53 Chief Judge, 2023-2024