Contest Judging Help Sheets

When we are judging it sometimes feels like we need an explanation of the criteria. Well, there is a very handy explanation just on the reverse of the form (assuming it was printed correctly). However, even that seems inadequate sometimes and further explanation or more to the point, simplification is needed. It would also be nice to have somewhere to take notes on each contestant.

Here are some ‘help sheets’ which can be used during contest. Use one per contestant and then use this to transfer the score to your official judging sheet – make sure you sign this one!

Autumn Contest

Humorous Speech Contest

Table Topics Contest

Spring Contest

International Speech Contest

Evaluation Contest

These help sheets were originally produced by Teresa Dukes.

Remember, the only objective in Judging is to find a winner and doing so fairly and based on the criteria NOT personal feelings about the speech subject or the speaker is essential.


Courage, Confidence and Competence for Change

‘It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory’ W.R. Deming

Change is essential for survival. Leadership is about gaining the engagement of people to make those changes happen. It requires courage, confidence and competence to leave the norm and step outside your comfort zone. (Reference: Engaging Change by Mark Wilcox and Mark Jenkins). It’s when you leave your comfort zone, that magic happens.  At last night’s meeting, we had three major changes.

1. Room Layout

Our thanks go to Dryden Pennington, who arranged with the hotel to change the room layout to include tables. This was an idea that came from a recent training day and Dryden had the courage of his convictions to give it a go.

It was interesting to see the reaction as people entered the room. This was not the normal theatre style and the comfort zone had been challenged. The tables enabled people to have their drinks safely to hand. Writing notes as an evaluator was easier and I certainly found it helped to organise all the materials I needed for my roles. It also brought the time keeper into the meeting more.

The layout was not perfect, and as with any change; it would be easy to slip back to the way things were. It is about now as a team being creative to make the change work, as there are real advantages to having tables there.

2. Mentoring

One of the greatest benefits of being part of Casterbridge Speakers is the opportunity to be mentored and be a mentor. Where else can you have a free quality mentor for speMentoringaking and leadership skills?

Instead of Table Topics, members partnered up with their mentor and worked on their goals for the coming year. This still required impromptu speaking, listening and thinking on your feet. It was fantastic to hear the buzz in the room. The feedback was that many found it highly beneficial to share their thoughts with another and one or two felt truly inspired.

 Benefits of being mentored

  • Tap into the knowledge of another to aid progress
  • Turn knowledge, feedback and ideas into practical application
  • Increase confidence and sense of self worth
  • Having the support for your ideas aids motivation
  • Feel more part of the team and understand roles

Table Topics will resume, but having the occasional mentoring session instead proved highly beneficial.

3. Golden Nugget Award

The Golden Nugget Award was started last night to recognise the person who has gone the extra mile. As Laura McHarrie, our Area Director, says ‘Tiny things matter’ and there are people in a meeting that introduce small changes that make a real difference.This award is to recognise someone who has made a difference above and beyond the norm, as selected by the General Evaluator. Golden Nugget Award

Our first winner is Andrew Knowles for his excellent and humorous explanation of being a time keeper and then implementing the role perfectly. Being able to understand, explain and deliver your role requires a number of key skills. How well do people in the workplace manage this?

Getting Engaged

Casterbridge Speakers is an amazing club because its members have the courage, confidence and competence (and humour) to challenge the norm, try something new and make it work. Thank you for getting engaged.


Your President’s Goals

Our thanks go to Laura McHarrie, Area Director, for organising Club Officer Training Day on Saturday 25th July. The programme set out Laura’s vision for her year in office with the focus on tiny things that matter. The training day gave us time to chat with members of Chaseside, Ferndown and Hallmark Clubs, which is always valuable. This created various ideas and shared best practice.

One of the things we were asked was; if there was a fire what would you rush back in to save from your Club? My answer was the humour. Dryden suggested the ice breaker manual. Some things that matter are tangible and others intangible. What would you want to save?

We were also tasked to say what advice we would give a new club setting up. The answers from the three mixed groups gave quite different perspectives, which I believe Laura will be sharing with us. What advice would you give?

Another strategic task was to identify the key components of the different roles. Our group worked on President and this was our response, so I have set myself a challenge to deliver this!

  • See the Club as a business and run it professionally
  • Encourage mentoring and goal setting
  • Create teamwork and listen to what your team says
  • Encourage new members to take on roles at meetings
  • Enable members to achieve their goals
  • Deliver excellent customer service
  • Uphold processes and procedures
  • Be prepared to take a risk and adapt meetings occasionally
  • Sell the benefits of Toastmasters at every opportunity
  • Help the club to grow
  • Be a role model and demonstrate the values and qualities
  • Be a resource and offer help when needed
  • Set expectations through the vision and values
  • Make a difference and create a legacy by leaving the club stronger at the end of your term. In my case, I want to improve the judging of competitions. (more later)
  • Show good governance and transparency e.g. accounts

I call on you, my team, to help me achieve this, as I cannot do it alone. I also need you to give me feedback on how you think I am doing.

You can start by signing up for a role at the next meeting, if you haven’t already; and thinking about what speaker and leadership goals you will set yourself for the coming year .


Goal Setting and Planning

Successful leaders focus on what they want to achieve and plan how they are going to get there. The skill to set accountability through clear goals and planning are important to leadership in life, work and the Club.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland: Alice asks the Cheshire Cat

“Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat

“I don’t care where – -” said Alice

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat

Unless we are clear where we want to get to (what our goals are), it is harder to plan a route and ensure we get to our right destination. We can wander unnecessarily in the wilderness.

A survey of Harvard University graduates in 1979 showed that only 3% had clear written goals on graduating. Some 10 years later, that 3% were found to earn ten times more than the other 97% put together.


Goals do not have to be complex or cast in stone. They are a desired destination for success. The most successful people set SMARTA GOALS

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action oriented
  • Realistic/resourced
  • Timed (with start and finish dates)
  • Agreed (with all involved)

 Compare – To be a better club with                                                                                                                                                   To have met all the criteria to be a President’s Distinguished Club by June 30th 2016 with the full agreement and involvement of members

 Or – To improve my speaking with

I agree, starting with my next speech, to practice my delivery at least ten times to ensure the right pace and check the timing is right.

Implementing Goals

Setting goals and implementing them is like making a promise and keeping it. It is about integrity.

  1. As goals need to be agreed, it is important to involve team members in setting them. This helps gain ownership and commitment. Also two heads are better than one in creating the goals.
  2. Writing each goal down helps clarify thinking and establish accountability. It makes it easier to keep track of progress.
  3. Consider what you need to do to achieve the goal and what may prevent you. Having a clear plan will increase the likelihood of success.
  4. Regularly review progress toward the goal and make adjustments or problem solve as required to stay on track.


Fail to plan, plan to fail. A plan describes how a goal will be achieved and gives you structure. Otherwise it can be like going on a car journey, knowing your destination, but  without a route to get there. Planning can:

  • Reinforce goals by putting it in the forefront of focus
  • Make leaders more future-focused
  • Improve decision making through greater consideration of the consequences
  • Ensure better use of resources and a more productive process

Five Steps to Planning

Having determined your goals, planning has five essential steps.

  1. Establish strategies and the essential steps you need to take to achieve those goals
  2. Set a timetable with priorities and scheduling for completion of each stage
  3. Assign responsibilities as you may not be able to achieve the goal alone. Good teamwork in a Club can help achieve so much more. As an individual, this is where your mentor can really help you.
  4. Anticipate those things that may stop you and build in contingencies to remove them before they do.
  5. Be prepared to modify the plan if necessary.


Goal setting and planning are your destination and route map to success. They are the key skills of an effective leader. The time and effort required are well worth it.

For more detail: visit  The Toastmaster International Leadership Excellence Series


Ripples in the Pond – a President’s Vision

There is a Japanese proverb which says ‘A vision without action is a dream… action without a vision is a nightmare’. Fellow Toastmasters, as your new President, I do not want this year to be a nightmare. I therefore call on you to take action and make the vision a reality.

The word of the day last meeting was ‘parochial’. One meaning of being non-parochial is looking beyond your own immediate needs to that of the club, beyond that to the needs of Toastmasters International and beyond again to the wider community. It is like ripples in the pond spreading out to who knows where.

My vision is represented by the picture with one person making a drop into the pool of members and32149518 the ripples moving out. You, the members, are that pool. Whether the drop represents me, as President, the Committee or anyone of you, we can each make a difference, if we choose to. Without action – ripples – that droplet is just a drip!

I would like to change the words of John F Kennedy (Ask not what your country…) and say ‘Tell the Club what we can do for you and tell us what you can do for the Club’. After all we are a Speakers club! It is about being pro-active. The Committee and I cannot do it on our own.

An example of how you can be pro-active is by completing role allocation this meeting for the next meeting to take the pressure off Caroline Brewer, as VP Education. I was thrilled last meeting to hear Christine Wallach in her Table Topics speech say she will be an ambassador for the Club. We can all be ambassadors. Imagine how many people would be in the audience if we all brought a guest.

Casterbridge Speakers is a President’s Select Club, which is a fantastic achievement. Over the next year, I want to focus on you the members and your goals. I want to make mentoring a key part and improve the quality of judging at competitions. But it is not just about me. This is your Club and your vision, therefore I welcome your input into what the vision should be, how we can justly meet your needs; and how we can truly make a difference.

In twelve months time, I believe, with your input, we can all look back with unconditional pride as individuals and as a Club; and say ‘YES it was a great year’.



Lessons from President Pigg

Receiving the Presidency

Receiving the Presidency

I’m reaching the end of my presidential year with Casterbridge Speakers and so it’s an opportune time to share some of the many lessons that I have learnt. First of all I have enjoyed it. Being retired, it was great to be part of a team again. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working with a great team towards a common objective. This brought me right up against the forgotten part of Toastmasters, which is developing leadership skills.

The role of President encompasses all the skills that you need in the world of work, the world of leisure, and of course, in just living in this complex world of people, culture and social media.


For me, the Toastmaster’s teamwork came to the fore in the middle of the year. The Committee supported me in developing our Marketing Strategy and the key target of achieving Select Distinguished Club. We had a slow start to the year and I became nervous of failing to achieve this target. The Committee reminded me that we were only half way through our year and to have faith in our marketing and teamwork delivering the target. Here I am in May, with two months to go, having achieved the target and pushing for Presidential Distinguished Club.


The public tend to see a Toastmaster as someone dressed in a red coat managing a big occassion where many speeches are made. Casterbridge Speakers is about developing the art of making the speech, but we do not dress-up to do it. (well some do!!)

Celebrating 90th Anniversay of Toastmasters International

Celebrating 90th Anniversay of Toastmasters International

There are many more communication and leadership development opportunities at Toastmasters, from the often neglected skill of mentoring someone, to the art of preparing a supportive evaluation. We have 16 roles in a Toastmaster’s evening. My favourite is being the Toastmaster, (no red coat required). If you are of a competitive frame of mind, Casterbridge Speakers Club is successful in speech and evaluation competitions at an Area Level; with aspirations to become even better.


I achieved my Competent Communicator Certificate in March 2013 and in the mean time I have only presented an occasional speech. This year I decided to enter the International Speech Competition, and despite being very nervous, I did reasonably well at Club Level. My lesson here was that to be good needs constant practice, both in preparing and presenting the speech. I also learnt that you have to keep making speeches to develop that all important stage craft. From now on I will be regularly presenting speeches for evaluation.


I am the only retired member of Casterbridge Speakers and I do it to keep my mind active and the adrenalin pumping. Casterbridge currently has 26 members; comprising of a wide range of occupations, ages and circa 50:50 gender mix. The Club is known for its friendliness, humour and success in developing people into being confident speakers.
Many of our members are essentially sole traders, working on their own, but  constantly interacting with people as individuals or groups through their marketing and service delivery. Toastmasters provides them with a learning and supportive opportunity to hone their group leadership and communication skills.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Presidential Year. It’s stimulating to be part of a successful team that has achieved recognition in both Club development and Competition success. If you are looking to build your communication and leadership skills, why not join me at Casterbridge Speakers and work your way to becoming President?

Thank you Casterbridge Speakers for your support. I’ve had a fun year.

Douglas Pigg, President


Defusing Verbal Criticism

At Toastmasters, we get used to receiving a lot of constructive feedback and very rarely is it critical. This is how we learn and improve. However, at work or home, we may be subjected to angry, hurtful or destructive criticism. Being a good communicator or leader, requires knowing how to handle this in the appropriate way.

Why do we react to criticism as we do?

We all have a self image, which is based on our level of self esteem. We also have a public image, which is the person we wish others to see. For example, I may see myself as shy and introvert as my self image. On the other hand, the public image I wish others to see is someone who is confident and competent.

When you are criticised, this impacts on these two images, and depending on your beliefs and up-bringing, you will react in a certain way to re-instate those images.

You may

  • Withdraw not say anything and internalise the criticism to beat yourself up about it later
  • Rationalise it by making excuses. E.g. ‘Well I would have done a better report if I had had more time or the right information.’
  • Counterattack by throwing it back at the criticiser. E.g. ‘OK so I forgot your birthday, but you always forget mine and what about Mother’s Day?’

 None of these are likely to get you a successful outcome in the long term.

Or ideally, you may

  • Respond non-defensively. This requires five steps. It is not always easy to stay calm and maintain these in the face of an aggressive verbal attack, but vital if you want the best outcome.

The five steps of non-defensive response


It is important to actively listen and really hear the words they are saying, as well as what they might not be saying. It is hearing the emotion and whether there is a deeper issue going on. It is about staying focused and keeping eye-contact.


By acknowledging what you are hearing, you are showing you have listened. This does not mean you agree with them. It is about showing empathy. An example is ‘Yes, I can tell you are very upset about this.’ The tone of voice needs to be neutral.


Asking open questions allows you to delve deeper into what they really mean, what evidence they have, check understanding and if there is a deeper issue involved.


If you feed back to the criticiser in your own words, it again shows you have been listening and checks understanding. Is what you heard what they meant? Also it allows the other person to check if what they said is what they meant. E.g. you may say in a neutral tone: ‘What you are saying is that I am a hopeless manager’. They may respond by saying; ‘Well no, what I meant to say is you never give me any praise’.

Admit the truth

The criticiser may have delivered the feedback in an inappropriate or aggressive way. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any truth in it. You can sift through their offering to find any grains of truth. It is then about admitting and apologising to it. For example, ‘Yes you’re right; I did handle our meeting badly yesterday and I’m sorry’.

Having gone through these stages, you should be in a place to find a solution to the problem. It may take a few repeat steps to get to the best outcome.

This is adapted from a speech given on March 18th 2015 from the Interpersonal Communication Manual; advanced communication series.


Speaking About Love

The following speech was our President’s, Doug Pigg, winning entry in the International Speech Competition. Sadly due to family commitments, Doug is unable to compete at the Area Competition. Steve Richards and Dave Smith will be representing us on Sunday March 22nd at Sturminster Marshall Golf Club.

LOVE is all around you, but what does love mean to you?

Over the next few minutes I’m going to wrestle with that question as I guide you through the emotional labyrinth that we call LOVE.

The English Language won’t help us much on this journey of discovery because – for the Grammarians amongst you – love is an abstract noun, a word that is obviously unattached to anything real or sensible

I chose this topic after an evening’s discussion at The Portland Philosophy Café. We spent two enjoyable hours debating the meaning of love. Philosophers have been analysing it for 2500 years without reaching a definitive conclusion.

Plato’s view of love was that it is chaste and non-sexual, a love that is defined by the loveliness of the other person inspiring the soul – today we call it Platonic Love.

Aristotle’s, one of my heroes, view of love was more secular describing it as ‘two bodies and one soul’. For Aristotle, the body and soul were unified in the same way that a piece of wax with an impression stamped on it are unified – if the body dies, or as the wax melts, so does the impression of the soul.

The English language seeks to give to love some sense of meaning by embellishing it with the three Greek terms – Eros, Philia and Agape.

For Eros read Erotic – that part of love which is associated with an intense desire for something. The Greeks thought that this was a base, common and animalistic form of love. Do you agree? Is it black and white; or more like 50 Shades of Grey?

For Philia read Filial, – a deep fondness and appreciation of someone. Filial love is not just about family, it can extend to our pals, our politics and our profession. My pal Aristotle’s view was that the basis of filial love is our own happiness and for that he argued that you need to love yourself . That means look in the mirror and try and see what your mother sees!

Agape love is more complicated. Essentially it is about the love for a God (or a football team), BUT it can extend to include a love of all humanity. Agape love seeks to be a perfect kind of love that can be one way without the need for any return of affection. Of course my mate Aristotle argued that universal love was logically empty. If love is an excess of feeling towards one person then you can’t truly love everybody.

Well that’s dealt with the Greek Philosophers view of love, so let’s move on to the modern world of romanticised love. A world where the classical notion of love has been debased by commercialism and social media – Or has it?

Advertising sets out to induce within us that base, intense desire for things (Think Eros). It plays upon our emotions, directly influencing the choices that we all make. Unfortunately, beauty is often the main driver.

The world of fashion can improve our self-image, our ego, and our confidence in relationships with others (Think Philia). On the other hand, it can lead to an unquestioning fan worship (Think Agape).

Social Media supports filial love.  Many displaced families regularly stay in touch through the internet. However, this virtual world of two-dimensional communication can hide many of the emotional and physical clues that our subconscious uses to tell us the true feelings that someone has for us.

Today Fundamentalism is always in the news. It promotes a love of God that demands absolute devotion, awe and a desire that transcends earthly cares and obstacles. For some, this provides a simplicity of life and a certainty of love that appears to be missing from their perception of the modern world. 

We are now at the end of our short journey through the emotional labyrinth that we call love. Hopefully, like me, love is no longer all Greek to you and you are a little wiser in your understanding of the love that is all around you 

I leave you with a reminder to Love Yourself as a way of bringing you happiness and also to bring your own true love within ‘two bodies and one soul’


 Competitors in the Club Contest for International Speech and Evaluations



Hidden Benefits of Being a Member

There are the obvious reasons for being a member of Casterbridge Speakers and thereby Toastmasters International; such as:

  • Improving your presentation skills
  • Enhancing your leadership capabilities
  • Meeting like-minded people
  • Accessing amazing materials
  • Receiving constructive feedback in a supportive environment

However, there are some very important and less obvious reasons, which were highlighted on a recent Officer Training Day. Just the fact that you can go and share best practice with other clubs is an advantage, because you can apply the learning in your own daily work.

  • You have free peer mentoring. Being a member means you have access to people with a range of speaking and leadership skills and will be appointed your own mentor. This person can support you through your learning journey. You can be a mentor too and hone this important skill.
  • You have the opportunity to practice new leadership roles in a safe environment. As Caroline Brewer, Past Club President, said  ‘ Even though I train people in leadership, being President allowed me to put words into action and I really enjoyed the role’.
  • Being a member and taking on roles in the Club can enhance your CV and lead to career advancement. This has been demonstrated recently by a member, Anya De Iongh.
  • Self awareness is a key leadership skill and at Casterbridge Speakers, you can have objective, constructive feedback on your leadership and presentations.
  • As a Club Officer, you have the opportunity to stamp your own mark on a Club and in so doing, help the Club and its members to succeed.
  • The arenalin rush in giving a speech or fulfilling a role is highly stimulating without damage to body or limb (unlike bungey jumping)! Even greater is the excitement of entering the competitions and competing against the best.

With all these benefits, it makes sense to join. Come along to the next meeting and find out for yourself.


Reasons and Motivation

There can be many reasons for joining Casterbridge Speakers, as a recent survey of members showed.

  • Being invited and influenced by a current member
  • Having to give a speech at my daughter’s wedding
  • Supporting my wife
  • For work reasons
  • Mental stimulation and adrenalin kick
  • Satisfying the actor in me
  • Speaking impromptu in table topics
  • Gaining more confidence in public speaking
  • Improving my ability to evaluate others and give constructive feedback
  • The book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

Whatever the initial reason for joining, there is then the need to keep attending, even in those cold winter months or when you are busy. It is converting interest into commitment. The factors of self-motivation that keep people coming back, even for years, proved equally varied:

  • The buzz of getting up to speak, whether scripted or off the cuff
  • It’s the chance to do a speech or take a role
  • Desire to improve and work with like-minded people
  • To give it a go
  • Enjoyment, friends and confidence building
  • Being part of the Toastmaster community
  • The support you receive
  • Increased confidence
  • The camaraderie and loyalty to the Club and its President
  • The Toastmaster magazine and materials
  • To learn how to be more persuasive
  • Achieve Advanced Communicator Bronze award

Steve Richards, who achieved his Competent Communicator Award, has not been able to come for 18 months due to his work commitments. Having returned last week, he said: ‘I realise how much I missed it and it’s great to be back’.

Whatever your reasons or motivation for wanting to improve your speaking or leadership skills, Casterbridge Speakers is there for you in a friendly and supportive environment. Why not tell your friends, family and colleagues? A strong membership gives a meeting even more of a buzz. Together, we can challenge and support each other to be the best that we want to be.