3-5 Minute Webinar Contest

The VTM CON Webinar Contest is an unofficial Toastmasters contest format 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.

If you think of the International Speech Contest as being a competition for who can deliver the best keynote in a compressed, 7-minute format, the mini-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.”

Trying to create engagement within a 3-5 minute webinar will be challenging, but that’s what makes it a contest!

VTM CON will use a modified version of a format originally developed at Online Presenters Toastmasters, although that version allowed 6-8 minutes. Examples of past winning webinar speeches are included below. To keep the time required for the contest manageable, VTM CON’s version the contest will be limited to 3-5 minute speeches. Participation will be limited to one contestant from each of the online-only clubs sponsoring and helping to organize VTM CON.

VTM CON will be the first multi-club webinar contest. In a departure from how formal Toastmasters contests have been run online during the pandemic, audience members will be encouraged to keep their cameras on and actively participate in the chat.

How the Contest Is Organized

Speech Format: Speakers will be allowed 3-5 minutes. It is up to the speaker to decide whether to include questions and answers, but they should try to find some way of creating audience engagement. Any time spent on Q&A is included within the 3-5 minute time limit. A chat monitor will be available to assist the speaker with tracking feedback from the audience. Again, it’s up to the speaker to decide whether to ask for the chat monitor’s help.

Contestants who speak for less than 2 minutes, 30 seconds, or more than 5 minutes, 30 seconds, will be disqualified.

The Timer should interrupt any speaker who goes past 6 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.

Everyone other than the speaker will be muted during the presentation, so questions will be submitted via the chat feature. If you are not competing, be sure to come ready to be a good audience with lively questions for our contestants.

A member is appointed to monitor the chat feed, and speakers have the option of asking the chat monitor to assist by relaying questions to them. 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.

Voting Procedure

Setup on contest.toastmost.org

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

Webinar Contest Scoring

 Max score
Speech Development15
Audience Engagement15
Speech Value15
Call to Action15
Visual15
Voice10
Manner5
Appropriateness/Correctness10
  
  
Total Possible Score100
Digital version of the ballot

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.

Examples of Winning Speeches

These examples are from Online Presenters. The format was slightly different, with 6-8 minutes allowed instead of 3-5.

Carol Praninski (2018)
Krishn Ramchurn (2020)