Effective Speaking Rules and Regulations

Official Rules

Rules determine the intent and spirit of the competition. Regulations and Procedure, described below, explain how to apply the rules. When a situation arises that is not explicitly described in the Regulations and Procedure, then the organizer of the competition (the coordinator, chairman or committee) will make a decision that is compliant with the intent of the rules. The organizers’ decisions are final.

The Competition

  1. The Effective Speaking competition is held annually. The competition takes place at the Local, Regional, Provincial and National levels. The winner of each level becomes one of the contestants at the next level. If the winner cannot attend the competition at the next level, the runner-up can substitute.
  2. The country has been broken down into the twelve (12) Provincial Committee jurisdictions. Each Provincial Committee will subdivide its responsible area into regions. The winners in each of the squadrons within a region will meet for the regional competition. The winners of the regional competitions will then go into a provincial final competition. The winners of the provincial competition will meet at the National Competition.
  3. Local, regional and provincial competitions should be completed before April 30th of the current training year and the twelve (12) provincial champions should be made known to League Headquarters no later than May 1st of that same year.
  4. Squadron Sponsoring Committees have the option of sponsoring a local Effective Speaking competition for Air Cadets. The local Effective Speaking competition committee is responsible for all phases of the competition at the squadron level. All local competitions must be conducted by members of the Sponsoring Committee, in cooperation with the CIC personnel. The winners of the local competitions will be eligible to compete in their regional competition. At the discretion of the Provincial Committee, each squadron may send one or more contestants to compete in the regional or provincial competition. If it is the case, the Provincial Coordinator must publish a directive about multiple participants to prevent any misunderstanding.
  5. Regional and/or Provincial Coordinators – working with the Provincial Committees of the League – conduct regional competitions. Regional competitions will be held at times and places determined by the Coordinator. The Chairman of the regional competitions committee will be determined by the Provincial Coordinators and supervised by them. All regional competitions must comply with the official rules and the regional winners shall be eligible to compete at their provincial competition.
  6. The Provincial Coordinator conducts provincial competitions. The Provincial Effective Speaking Coordinator, working with the Provincial Committee, shall determine the date and place of the provincial competition. All provincial competitions must comply with the official rules and only the provincial winners shall be eligible to compete at the national competition.
  7. National competitions are conducted by the National Effective Speaking Committee and will be held during the week of the Annual General Meeting (AGM), at the meeting location.
  8. In the event that a winner in a local or regional competition cannot compete in a subsequent competition for any reason, the runner-up may be declared an alternate contestant.


  1. Open to all Air Cadets who have not aged out up to and including the day of return to unit from the National

Effective Speaking Competition.

  1. The National Winner will not be eligible to compete again.

General Rules

  1. All levels of the Effective Speaking Competition must be organized in its entirety by an Air Cadet League


  1. The transportation of a contestant to a region and or provincial competition and the maintenance of the contestant at the competition site shall be the responsibility of the Squadron Sponsoring Committee.
  2. Transportation of a contestant to the National competition shall be the responsibility of the contestant’s Provincial Committee. Maintenance of the contestant at the competition will be the responsibility of the Host Provincial Committee.
  3. Alcoholic beverages shall not be sold, consumed or be present at any level of Effective Speaking Competitions.

Competition Rules

  1. All contestants must receive a copy of the official rules, and be instructed to thoroughly familiarize themselves with these rules.
  2. The competition is based on two speeches by each contestant: a prepared speech and an impromptu speech. The contestants will be ranked based on the total scores of both speeches.
  3. The National Effective Speaking committee will suggest topics for the prepared speech. These topics will be approved by the Board of Governors and then be published in Effective Speaking documentation and posted on the Air Cadet League of Canada National web site.
  4. All contestants must speak and be ranked at each level (local, regional, provincial, etc.) before progressing to the next level of competition.
  5. Each contestant shall prepare his/her own original oration. Information may be quoted in a speech as long as the resource is acknowledged within the speech. The contestants may receive advice in its preparation; however, they may make changes or improvements in the oration at any time during the competition.
  6. Each contestant shall have a three minute preparation time to prepare, individually and without assistance, his/her impromptu speech just before speaking.
  7. NO VISUAL AIDS, PROPS, GIMMICKS or the assistance of persons may be used by contestants. NOTE: A gimmick is any device/stunt or person used to attract attention, g. clothing/costume props, singing a song, using taped music in the background, leading a cheer or chant, etc. Quotations are acceptable to use.
  8. All contestants must have similar condition for their speeches, free of distractions, in order to offer a fair competition.

Judging and Timing

  1. Each competition shall have three judges, one or two timekeeper(s) and one teller. It is also possible to have an evaluator to complete an Evaluation Sheet on each contestant’s performance.
  2. The timekeeper(s) shall be provided with a stopwatch or equivalent timing device.
  3. Whenever possible, the judges and the evaluator for all Effective Speaking Contests should be non-Air Cadet League or CIC and shall not be acquainted with any of the contestants. They should be qualified and bilingual where necessary.
  4. Judges, evaluator, timekeeper(s) and teller must use the official marking sheets furnished by the Air Cadet League.
  1. During the competition the judges, evaluator, timekeeper and teller shall each be in different locations within the room. However, if two timekeepers are on duty, they should sit together.
  1. Each judge shall render his evaluation on all contestants without consultation with other judges or any other person. Each judge, timekeeper and teller must sign his/her official marking sheet.
  2. If an evaluator is present, he/she should review the comments on the contestants’ performance with the judges before presenting them to the contestant.
  3. The result of a judge’s decision shall be kept confidential; no one shall attempt to discuss a contestant’s score with the judge. The organizing committee should provide opportunities for the contestants, after the competition, to consult with the judges or the evaluator for feedback in order to improve upon their public speaking skills.
  4. The judges’ and the timekeeper’s marking sheets will be handed to the teller for compilation. The teller will apply any time penalty to the contestant’s score on every judge’s sheets and tabulate the results on the Official Competition Marking Sheet. From this form, the competition winner will be determined.
  5. If the teller uses an automated spreadsheet, then each judge and timekeeper must validate the scores and time faults on the spreadsheet before the winner is announced in order to identify and correct any data entry errors.
  6. In all local, regional, provincial and national competitions, only the first, second and third place winners shall be determined and announced.
  7. Evaluation sheets will be provided to each contestant.


  1. Awards and presentations for speakers will vary. Recipients will be given details from the event organizers.

Gold, silver and bronze medals for the declared provincial winner, the first runner-up and the second runner-up, respectively, are provided to the Provincial Committee by the Air Cadet League National Headquarters. Medals for competitions other than the provincial level are available at minimal cost.

  1. Certificates acknowledging the individual Air Cadet participation in local and regional competitions are also available from Air Cadet League Headquarters.

The Contestant Responsibilities

  1. Contestants have responsibilities which include:

a. Selecting a topic from the official list of topics.

b. Finding out details about levels of competition in which she/he will be a participant (date, where, etc.) and becoming aware of the rules.

c. Preparing their own speeches. Speeches are to be the ORIGINAL WORK OF THE CONTESTANT. Contestants must use proper quotes and credit authors and source of material if referring to another person’s work.

d. Improving their speeches after each presentation. Speakers are allowed to write a completely different speech for each level of competition.

e. Speaking in either English or French or combination of both and continue to speak in the chosen language throughout all levels of the competition. As per the application form, contestants must advise the Coordinator at the first level of competition of their language of choice, at least four (4) weeks prior to the competition. However, this should not prevent a speaker from including common expressions or proper names of places, events, things or persons in the other language if appropriate. Furthermore, a speaker should not be penalized for thanking the audience in both languages.

f. Arriving early at the competition.

Competition Flow

  1. Before the competition starts, the contestants should be in a private room where they can be briefed and relax.
  2. The Competition Coordinator must explain these points to the contestants:

a. How the competition will be held, the sequence of events.

b. Location of facilities and identification of volunteer staff.

c. Details on the system used (time cards and/or lights) to inform the contestant on the remaining time for their speeches. The coordinator must make a note of which contestants decide NOT to have this system, and inform the timekeeper.

d. How the A. system works. The coordinator must make a note of which contestants decide to use it if it is not required (for recording or in very large room).

40. The Competition Coordinator runs a random draw to establish the order the contestants will perform their prepared speech. The impromptu speech will be in the reverse order, i.e. the last contestant for the prepared speech will be the first contestant for the impromptu speech.

41. No spectator may enter or leave the audience while a contestant is speaking and no one, including press photographers, shall photograph a contestant during the presentation. Ask spectators to turn off their cell phones, pagers and watch alarms. The audience must be alerted to these rules before the competition begins, and at various intervals, by the Master of Ceremonies. A person should be appointed to enforce these rules.

42. Allow for the use of one video camera at provincial and national finals, to be operated under the supervision of the Effective Speaking Committee, provided the camera remains stationary and existing room light is used, and the camera is placed sufficiently far from the speaker so as not to obstruct the vision of the speaker and the audience. Contestants shall have the option of having the camera off during their own presentation. (The same rule on videotaping with appropriate modifications should apply at all local and regional competitions).

43. Judges and/or evaluators will be allowed approximately two minutes to mark their scores and to write their comments following each speech.

44. An interval of no more than three minutes shall be allowed between contestants.

45. In order to promote a level playing field, before the start of each competition, the contestants will make an individual choice whether or not to be sequestered before or after the prepared speeches, and will also make the choice of whether or not to be sequestered after they have given their own impromptu speech.

46. For impromptu speeches, the topic will be selected by the Competition Coordinator with the help of the judges. All contestants will give the same impromptu speech. All contestants will be removed from the speaking area. One at a time, each contestant will be isolated to put his/her thoughts together.


  1. The allotted times for speeches are:

a. Prepared: Not less than five (5) minutes or more than six (6) minutes

b. Impromptu: Not less than two (2) minutes or more than three (3) minutes

  1. Speeches are to be timed from the first word spoken from the contestant, which includes the greeting or salutation. Should the contestant be unable to complete their prepared or impromptu speech, it will be marked up to the point that the Cadet stops their speech. The Cadet, at the discretion of the Chairperson, may be allowed to re-present their speech later in the competition. The second presentation will not be scored.
  1. A timekeeper using time cards is to indicate the amount of time remaining in a speech as follows:

a. Prepared Speech:

i. 1 minute, after five (5) minutes into the speech;

ii. 30 seconds, after five (5) minutes thirty (30) seconds into the speech; and iii. Time Elapsed, after six (6) minutes into the speech.

b. Impromptu Speech:

i. 1 minute, after two (2) minutes into the speech;

ii. 30 seconds, after two (2) minutes thirty (30) seconds into the speech; and iii. Time Elapsed, after three (3) minutes into the speech.

50. The timekeeper should sit in the centre of the first row, and be easily visible by the speaker, even if a podium is used. The timekeeper is to hold the time card in front of his/her chest for five seconds only and is to remain seated. This is to minimize any distraction to the speaker.

51. A light system (green, amber and red) can be used instead of the time card if such light system is available.

52. If timing lights are used they must be clearly visible to the speaker but not obvious to the audience and be used as follows:

a. Prepared Speech

i. A green light will be displayed at five (5) minutes and remain displayed for thirty (30) seconds.

ii. An amber light will be displayed at five (5) minutes and thirty (30) seconds and remain displayed for thirty (30) seconds.

iii. A red light will be displayed at six (6) minutes and remain on until the conclusion of the speech.

b. Impromptu Speech:

i. A green light will be displayed at two (2) minutes and remain displayed for thirty (30) seconds.

ii. An amber light will be displayed at two (2) minutes and thirty (30) seconds and remain displayed for thirty (30) seconds.

iii. A red light will be displayed at three (3) minutes and remain on until the conclusion of the speech.

  1. Before the competition, the time card and/or light system must be explained to the contestants. A contestant may elect NOT to use such time cards and/or lights.

Time faults

  1. Prepared speeches: 1 (one) point to be deducted from the raw score for every portion of 5 (five) seconds over or under the allowable time limit, to a maximum penalty of 7 (seven) points. Examples of penalties on the duration of  prepared speeches:
Duration Penalty
4 min 25 sec 7 points
4 min 30 sec 6 points
4 min 35 sec 5 points
4 min 40 sec 4 points
4 min 45 sec 3 points
4 min 50 sec 2 points
4 min 55 sec 1 point
5 min 00 sec 0 points
6 min 00 sec 0 points
6 min 05 sec 1 point
6 min 10 sec 2 points
6 min 15 sec 3 points
6 min 20 sec 4  points
6 min 25 sec 5 points
6 min 30 sec 6 points
6 min 35 sec 7 points
  1. Impromptu speeches: 1 (one) point to be deducted from the raw score for every portion of 5 (five) seconds over or under the allowable time limit, to a maximum penalty of 3 (three) points. Examples of penalty on impromptu speeches duration:
Duration Penalty
1 min 45 sec 3 points
1 min 50 sec 2 points
1 min 55 sec 1 point
2 min 00 sec 0 points
3 min 00 sec 0 points
3 min 05 sec 1 point
3 min 10 sec 2 points
3 min 15 sec 3 points

56. Time faults must be deducted by the teller on each judge’s’ score before speakers are ranked.


57. Tellers receive the score marking sheets from each judge and from the timekeeper(s), total these scores, and put the scores in order.

58. If a tie ensues between two or more competitors, the tie is to be broken by the judges.


59. Judges should not evaluate the same contestants twice in the same training year.

60. Judges and evaluator are encouraged to put emphasis on the educational value of the experience, so that “winning” does not appear to be the sole purpose of involvement.

61. One of the Judges is asked to make verbal comments to the assembly in the name of all judges.

Disqualification Criteria

62. Each Effective Speaking Committee should establish a Resolution Panel to rule on penalties and/or disqualifications.

63. A cadet should not be disqualified from a competition for lateness, unless he or she arrives after the last prepared speech has begun.

64. The use of electronic communication devices by cadets is not permitted during the competition.

65. Any violation of the Rules and Regulations will result in penalization or disqualification from the competition as decided by the resolution panel as per Rule 62.

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