An Area Contest is a speech contest involving the winners of contests of clubs within the Area. Area Contests have historically been held twice each year, usually in the Fall (September or October) and the Spring (March or April), but as of the 2017-18 Toastmasters Year, are only held once each year. The Area Contest must be scheduled after all the relevant club contests, but before the Division Contest.
Area Contests are put on by the Area Director of each Area, although it is common for two or three Area Directors to join together to host a combined contest. In such a contest, each Area's contest is separate, although the Areas may use just one Test Speaker, Table Topics question, and set of Functionaries.
An Area Director may choose to find a Contest Organizer to handle details of putting together the contest. Some people who act as Contest Organizer use the experience to complete their High Performance Leadership requirement which is part of the Advanced Leader Silver designation's requirements.
Putting together an Area Contest may seem like a big job the first time, but it is far easier the second time around. In addition, people who have previously organized an Area Contest may well offer to share the materials that they created for their contests. One very important document for the contest is the Script, which tells the functionaries what they are expected to do and say.
Area Contest organization should be started three months in advance by choosing a date in coordination with the Division Director, and checking the District Calendar to make sure other major events are not scheduled at the same time. It is also important not to schedule the Area Contest on a national or state holiday, or on a religious holiday.
After choosing the date, a location should be picked. Since an Area Contest is supposed to break even or make money, the cost of the location is a key concern. Locations should also be in safe locales (especially if held at night), should be easy for people to access, and should be large enough to hold the anticipated number of people. An area contest will usually attract 30-70 people, but may attract as much as 100 or more in some instances.
Finding a Chief Judge is one of the first tasks, because the Chief Judge may find judges for the contest, if given enough time, and may also bring the documents which are necessary for the judging process. While the Contest Organizer is in charge of putting together the contest, the Chief Judge is in charge of making sure the contest rules are followed. The Contest Organizer must select a Chief Judge from the list of members who have taken Chief Judge training.