How you dress may be the deciding factor in WA contests
I have listened with amazement at various Area Contests in recent times as Chief Judges have singled out formal dress as one of or even the most important factor for International Contestants. Where does this approach come from? It certainly isn’t from the Judging Criteria published by Toastmasters International. I’ve published the full text below. You will see that Content is allocated 50%, Delivery 30% and Language 20%. The only reference to a speaker’s appearance is in the Delivery section, and that is in one sentence of three sentences in one section of three sections. This is that sentence.
“The speaker’s appearance should reinforce the speech, whether profound, sad, humorous, instructional.”
There is no actual reference to a contestant’s clothing, and certainly no instruction to take into account whether it meets the judge’s idea (or prejudice) of what appropriate clothing would be. There is simply nothing in the guidelines to support a widespread belief among certain very experienced judges that dressing formally is the most important, or a very important issue, or even any kind of relevant issue in arriving at a proper judgment in assessing contestants.
Check it for yourself. Look at the the full guidelines. In particular read the Delivery section. Of course appearance is important – it should reinforce the speech, and that reinforcement should be relevant to the style of the speech. Appearance is important, but so are many other factors. It is one of many and its relative importance should be assessed in terms of the whole Judging Criteria.
But look out!
If you are an International contestant at Area or Division level in WA, think carefully about this advice. There will be judges in your panel who pay little or no attention to the Toastmasters International Criteria. So dress very carefully, and very formally.
Oh, and put a bit of effort into the speech itself – things like the content, your body language, your voice, your manner and your language. Hopefully it may influence the result.
Have your say on this important subject
You may or may not agree with what I have written above. Leave a comment – go to the end of the file and put in your opinion. This will help mould opinion and judging action in WA.
INTERNATIONAL JUDGING CRITERIA
SPEECH DEVELOPMENT is the way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. The speech is structured around a purpose, and the structure must include an opening, body and conclusion. A good speech immediately engages the audience’s attention and then moves forward to 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.
EFFECTIVENESS is measured in part by the audience’s reception of the speech, but a large part is your subjective judgment of how the speech came across. You should ask yourself such questions as “Was I able to determine the speaker’s purpose?” “Did the speech relate directly to that purpose?” “Was the audience’s interest held by the speaker?” “Was this speech subject appropriate for this particular audience?”
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.
PHYSICAL presentation of a speech carries part of the responsibility for effective communication. The speaker’s appearance should reinforce the speech, whether profound, sad, humorous, instructional.Â Body language should support points through gestures, expressions and body positioning.
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.
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.
Have your say.Â Leave a comment.
David Nicholas DTM