Club Newsletter Contest 2021: Call for Judges

Registration for the 2021 club newsletter contest just ended. There are several contestants this year and they are busy preparing their newsletters.

If you are not involved in the contest as an editor or a submitter of your club’s newsletter, there may be an opportunity for you to participate after all. And it doesn’t involve preparing or publishing a newsletter.

Instead, be a judge!

Can anyone be a judge? Hmmm, if you can read, you can be a judge, right? Well, almost right. We do have some simple qualifications and as long as you can get past those, you are in the pool!

If you are not sure of the rules of the contest itself, what the contestants are working with, you should check the details here.

Who can be a Judge?

The qualifications for being a judge are:

  1. You must be a Toastmasters District 57 member, now through June 2021.
  2. You must not be a member of any of the clubs that participate in the contest, now through June 2021.
  3. You must be willing to judge using the judging criteria announced for the contest — what the clubs are likely to follow. The expectations have been set and we need to deliver on them in terms of running a fair contest. If you are opposed to the criteria as they are set up, do not volunteer to be a judge!
  4. You must be willing to receive the contest submissions from December through May as the issues are published by the various clubs in the contest.
  5. There is a tight deadline in early June for you to do the judging and sending me your ballots with your choices for the winners. You must agree to meet that deadline which is likely to be around June 10, certainly not later than June 15, 2021.

How does judging work?

  1. Sign up to express your interest in judging by submitting the form available here. This needs to be done by November 30.
  2. I will collate all the entries and get in touch with you based on what I find. I may need to select from the pool of interested judges.
  3. The incoming submissions from the participating clubs will be organized into some form of collection in a central location. I may have the submission email alias include you in the distribution list so that you get the newsletters as they are released rather than waiting for me to organize them. This specific step is still being finalized. [Update on Jan 10, 2021: The submissions can be accessed from this central Google sheet here]
  4. The contest starts on December 1 and runs through May 31. 
  5. In June, by the deadline, you review all the submissions and use the judging criteria and come up with a list of your top 3 candidates. You email your verdict directly to me.
  6. I collate all the judges’ responses and determine the overall winners.
  7. I will assemble a small team of Tie-breaking judges who will go through the same judging process and I will use their verdict for breaking ties in the reconciliation of the ballots from the voting judges.

If you are familiar with the Toastmasters speech contests, you can see the parallel in the scheme of this contest as well. If you haven’t noticed yet, I play the role of the Chief Judge, which means I don’t judge at all. I just collate and reconcile incoming ballots. The parallel to ballot counters is not yet in place and I am sure that will also happen. All voting judges and tie-breaking judges will be anonymous, of course.

Similarities notwithstanding, this newsletter contest is a different beast from the usual speech contest. Instead of the entire contest finishing in a couple of hours, it will take six months. Contestants’ performance and the judging process are not timed except for the deadlines associated with these. Return of the ballots are not tightly synchronized, and everything is relaxed in its pace.

Undoubtedly this is a new experiment and we will learn from it as it progresses and after it finishes.

Why would I volunteer to judge?

  • First and foremost, you get to learn about your sister clubs in a manner unparalleled by any other means. This can be simple knowledge, but often it is a wealth of learning opportunity regarding how you can improve your own Toastmasters journey.
  • You can be instrumental in rewarding quality within District 57 thereby enhancing it.
  • You can feel good about helping me and the district establish what is promising to become a lively if not coveted contest. The creativity and resourcefulness that this initiative is likely to uncover is something we can all be proud of facilitating.
  • You can earn OATM points for it.

How about it?

Hope it all makes sense and you want to be part of this process. I look forward to receiving your submission to be a judge.


Let’s do it!

Venkat Raman
D57 Newsletter Editor

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