[Toastmasters] Effective Evaluations

Random Observation/Comment #330: Effective communication is a key component to a well-rounded individual. Whether you’re a developer or in sales, you need to be able to voice your ideas and opinions in order to take ownership of your contributions.

Sheep at attention
Sheep at attention

The evaluation portion of the toastmasters agenda provides a unique opportunity for a person to practice giving constructive feedback about the speech.  Not only does the speaker get immediate feedback on his/her speech performance, but the evaluator also practices presenting these strong points and improvement areas in a structured and coherent manner.

When you’re an evaluator, be sure to listen carefully and observe all aspects of the speech.  Here are a few things to look for:

Content:

  • Were the speech’s objectives met?
  • Was the topic appropriate for the audience?
  • Was the speech well organized and easy to follow with a solid introduction and conclusion?

Delivery:

  • Did the speaker use any filler words?
  • Did the speaker Insert pauses to emphasize points?
  • Did the speaker maintain consistent eye contact with the group?
  • Was the speaker’s voice loud enough?
  • Was the pace of the speech conversational and easy to follow?

Presence:

  • Were there any noticeable nervous ticks or unnecessary movements
  • Was the body language of the speaker consistent and show confidence?
  • Did the speaker use of hand gestures to emphasize certain points?
  • Did the speaker smile and enjoy conveying the ideas passionately?
  • Did the speaker stand away from any desks and utilize the speaking space adequately?

Advanced Techniques:

  • Did the speaker ask questions to the audience to draw their attention?
  • In the structure of the speech, was there repetition of phrases so the key ideas are easily remembered?
  • Did the speaker use rhetorical questions to outline the structure of their speech?
  • Did the speaker use a storytelling technique to keep the content interesting within the context of the main point (i.e. give relevant examples)
  • Did the speaker inspire the audience with a call to action at the end of the speech (e.g. if the speech is about recycling, conclude with things the audience can do to recycle and help save the planet)?

As you pay attention to these points, choose 3-4 main strong points and 2-3 improvement areas. Be sure to take note of a quote in the speech that was memorable, so it can be repeated in the summary.

When delivering the evaluation, start with stating the objectives of the speech. Give a short summary of the speech and while in context, mention specific examples within the speech that emphasized this strength. From there, sandwich the areas of improvement in the middle of the evaluation and make recommendations for improvement. At the end, mention more strong points and encourage additional practice and further praise for their time and effort into preparing and delivering a speech.

I believe the toastmasters forum is the most effective way of improvement if the members take the opportunity seriously.  I have learned from the good examples of my peers and the continuous practice allows for further improvement. If anything, it’s a great community and I’m glad I can contribute.

~See Lemons Evaluate

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