The Golden Gavel Speech CompetitionThe Golden Gavel Speech CompetitionThe Golden Gavel Speech Competition
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What exactly is the Golden Gavel contest?
It is a speech contest open to novice speakers from the community or from organized public speaking groups. Eligible contestants must be 17 years of age or older and have less than 18 months public speaking experience prior to the contest.

Where and when?
This information can be confirmed on this website or by contacting Evelyn Woodward, Committee Chair at 250-370-1775 or by jimj_pa@shaw.ca.

You will see detailed information on the contest; venue address; contest times, entry form, how to address the audience etc.

What is the cost to enter this contest?
Contestants entrance is FREE, including admission to any or all times of the preliminary contest(s) as well as the final contest one to two weeks later. Tell the volunteers manning the door that you are a contestant and give them your name.

Why would I want to attend more than one contest?
Unless you are scheduled to speak in the first time slot, it provides you with an opportunity to see the venue and get a feel for the speaking area and general layout of the facility. Additionally, you will be able to watch how the contest is run so you know what the process is by the time you have been scheduled to speak, for the preliminary contests.

To attend the final contest is a great idea also, to cheer on speakers; provide support and encouragement and to hear some great novice speakers deliver some incredible speeches. Attendance at the Final is also FREE to any contestant.

How am I scheduled to speak?
After the cutoff date, scheduling speakers happens based on times that have been indicated on the entry form where contestants advise if there are any times they are unavailable. The Scheduling Committee first checks all entries and lists all contestants and all times. Then they block off the times that people have indicated they are unavailable to speak. For multiple entrants from the same organization, every effort is made to schedule them on separate times so that they are not speaking against their fellow members. Then all other speakers are scheduled around that, trying to ensure as wide a range of organizations and community entrant mix as possible.

How long are the speeches?
Speeches are to be 5-7 minutes in length. Contestants have a 30 second buffer at either end of this time so they cannot be less than 4 minutes 30 seconds or longer than 7 minutes 30 seconds in length. Any speeches outside this time frame result in an automatic time disqualification.

We always remind speakers that knowing their timing is important as you don't want to go to all that work of preparing and practicing your speech and then be disqualified due to time. If there are any time disqualifications, that is stated to the audience, but the specific individual is not named.

We suggest that contestants when practicing, write the numbers 1 through 6 vertically down a piece of paper; then add 6:30 and 7 below that e.g.

5 (Green Light)
6 (Yellow Light)
7 (Red Light)

Then every time they practice their speech have someone time them and write down a couple of words at each minute mark. With repeated practice, you will find that you are about the same place each time. It gives you good notice to know you are within the speech time frames and gives you a good idea where you will be approximately in your speech as the lights come on and then they don't throw you, but are a good guide.

Some speakers present humourous speeches and some present more serious ones. Regardless, timing is as important as ensuring your speech has an opening, a body and a conclusion. IF you are presenting a humourous speech, we strongly suggest that your speech be not longer than about 6 minutes in length. The reason we tell people this every year is that you have to build in audience time. By that, we mean that if you say something funny and your audience laughs, you have to wait until the audience finishes laughing before you can continue with your speech - that takes time, so you need to build in and leave enough time to include that and not go over time.

Can I have already given the speech before?
Yes, if you have presented the speech to your organization or as an individual at a community event and received good feedback on it, you can dust it off and spiffy it up and present that speech. In both instances, you can present a speech that has been given in any contest prior to Golden Gavel.

What about the Speech subject matter?
This is the choice of the individual speakers and any topic should be appropriate in nature. For example, know your audience. We always remind no swearing or foul language is a good idea. As well, avoid controversial issues.

Am I allowed Notes?
Yes speakers can use notes if they choose. Bring multiple copies as one copy must be given to the Scheduling Committee before the contest starts and if you want notes on the stage with you, you need a copy to give to the Sgt at Arms who will be responsible to have them set up for you before you speak. Then have a 3rd copy for yourself if you want to peruse them one more time before speaking.

Many speakers want them available just in case as security but you will find that after all your practicing 99% of the time you don't refer to them.

Will there be a Lectern/Podium?
Yes one will be available if required.

Do I use a Microphone?
No, we don't put microphones on contestants.

Can I use Flip charts/computer or projector?
If contestants need these they need to let Scheduling know as soon as possible and mention it on the entry form so that it can be confirmed whether or not the facility has these devices available. If not the contestant will have to make arrangements to obtain the necessary equipment. Scheduling lets Sgt at Arms know as they need to ensure its set up ready before contestant speaks.

Can I use Props?
The same with props. If you are using any props as part of your speech, make a note on the entry form please.

Why do I need to Arrive early?
Contestants are asked to be present at the venue when they are scheduled to speak at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the contest.

This is important because the Scheduling Committee needs to confirm that:

  • all contestants are present

  • copies of speeches have been obtained from all contestants

  • bio sheets are completed for speech titles ready for the Master of Ceremonies, if they had not been provided at the time of entry

  • all contestants meet each other and the Master of Ceremonies [MC]

  • all contestants get up and stand on the stage to get a feel for the layout of the audience so they know where to focus their eye contact

  • all contestants meet with the Sgt at Arms to ensure the Sgt at Arms knows if contestants want to have their notes and how they would like them laid out on the lectern; do they want water? Do they have props? These are all things contestants need to think about prior to the contest start, as it is the Sgt. at Arms responsibility to have these items in place for contestants. Also, contestants should test the stage area out and determine where they want their items (such as water and props) to ensure they do not interfere with their speach presenation. For this reason, it is very important all contestants arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the contest start.

    How do I know what order I will speak?
    After Scheduling has met with all contestants as above, the MC will get all contestants together and remind about timing, how the speakers will be introduced and then speakers will draw for speaking order.

    Should I Dress?
    Yes being dressed is always a good idea (haha). Dress should be appropriate for the occasion. Contestants are free to wear what they are comfortable in. Usually for women, it can be a dress, suit, slacks and blouse or sweater. For men, can be a suit or sports jacket. Jeans for example may work with a sports jacket or other types of dress may be totally appropriate for the speech. Individual choice.

    Do I need a Name badge?
    As this contest for novice speakers is organized and run independently by the Golden Gavel Committee and is open to both individuals from the general community, as well as organized groups,- we request that no name badges be worn referencing any affiliation.

    How do I prepare for this contest?
    Practice, practice, practice.

    We suggest contestants practice as often as as much as their time schedules allow. If you belong to an organized group, ensure you are on the agenda to speak and present your speech each week for as many weeks as you can.

    Additionally, whether member of the community or an organization, if you work we suggest you present the speech at lunch time to co-workers for feed back and assistance on confirming timing. (This was invaluable to me as I asked people I supervised and worked with for feedback).

    Present the speech talking to yourself in a mirror so you can see your facial expressions and some body language.

    Present the speech in front of your family. (Thats the one I found the hardest personally, because it WAS family, but it definitely helped and the cats all paid attention too). Each time you present it to a different audience it helps reinforce your speech and helps with nerves.

    If you ride the bus, practice your speech in your head on the ride.

    If you have an iPod, MP3, or tape player, record the speech and play it with your earbuds, bluetooth speakers, or headphones while exercising or walking. Play it in the car when driving, wherever, however it works for you, practice, practice, practice is the key.

    If you have a video or web camera, either get someone to tape you or you can tape yourself. This will help to reinforce your confidence and your speech. It will provide an opportunity for you to see your facial expressions, body language, listen to your vocal variety and review your general demeanor.

    Practice and timing is very important, so that you are as prepared as you can be when you present your speech -- then at the contest, you can go and have fun and enjoy yourself and have confidence in your ability to deliver to a new audience.

    One thing about Golden Gavel audiences --- you will find that 75% or more people in the audience have entered this contest in the past; they are all very supportive and encouraging of all the speakers and you can feel it - it is hard to describe but it is tangible.


    Why do you say to have 2 speeches ready?

    Every year we suggest the contestants have the speech they are presenting at the preliminaries to be practiced as much as they can and have it nailed down - then go have fun.

    The reason we say have a 2nd speech in your back pocket is at least 80%+ practiced and ready, is that the 1st and 2nd place speakers (sometimes 3rd place) from each of the preliminary rounds goes on to the final contest. Speakers must present a new and different speech and you don't want to cause yourself undue stress by having to think of a new speech and get it ready in just two weeks or less.

    "When I entered Golden Gavel my sole goal was to face my fears and take a big personal risk presenting a speech to an organization I belonged to - all the while hoping that I would still be breathing at the end of 7 minutes. I didn't speak until the Friday night and when I realized I was still breathing and alive, I was on such a euphoric high it was incredible and hard to describe.

    I ended up coming first on my night which shocked the heck out of me. The problem was --------------- I hadn't thought that far ahead and never thought I would even place and didn't personally care --- my goal was to still be breathing.

    What it meant was I had to go home - think up a speech, write and fine tune it with practice and timing and I only had until the next week. For me it wasn't enough time. It was a good speech, but it wasn't practiced enough and it showed in multiple ways.

    So you could be like me and just want to stretch your wings and take a leap of faith by presenting a speech to a different audience or you could really want to win the Golden Gavel. It doesn't matter either way. What matters is that you are as prepared as possible. So if you have a 2nd speech in your back pocket, you have time between the preliminary and the final to practice and be prepared. Former Contestant"

Revised October 2016

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