Public Speaking is a skill. Like any other skill, it can be improved and developed. One of the best ways of improving as a speaker is by studying the evaluations you receive from your fellow Toastmasters. Evaluations are the heart of the Toastmasters educational program. We observe the speeches of our fellow Club members. We offer evaluations of their efforts. They, in turn, do the same for us. If you truly want to improve as a speaker, you must learn how to give and receive helpful evaluations. In Toastmasters, we evaluate to motivate.
Every speech in Toastmasters is a project with a different purpose and objectives. As an evaluator, you will have difficulty evaluating a speech if you are not familiar with the project’s objectives. Before the Club meeting, you should obtain the manual from which the speaker is speaking and carefully read the project description and objectives. If it is a Pathways project, it is a good idea to get a copy of the project worksheet or checklist in addition to the Evaluation form.
Most evaluations can be broken down to simply what you saw, what you heard and what you felt. It is quite easy to spot a well-prepared speaker. In the words of Dr. Ralph Smedley, a prepared speaker should never be nervous. Recognize their poise, confidence and the speaker’s ability to connect with the audience. Nervous energy often produces negative results. In your room for improvement, a reference to what could be improved should be cited with specific reference to what the speaker did while at the lectern is or podium as well as what can be done for improvement in the future.
What you heard should be your opinion on if the speaker was able to achieve the goals and objectives of the project. Address the speaker directly, as you go “from one – the speaker- too many, the audience” Your evaluation is not a speech, it should do nothing that calls more attention to yourself than to your efforts to help the speaker improve. Recognize the speaker’s vocal variety and his use of language. Recognize the use of proper diction, contrast, rhyme, echo, and metaphors where possible as well as foundational statements. Remind the audience of what you heard or did not hear.
Most evaluators tend to shy away from what they felt when the speaker made a reference that resonated them. Here, the evaluator can focus on the six emotions to which all humans relate. The evaluator can recall with statements like -When you recalled the experiences, you shared about your parents, I felt happy, I felt your fear, I was sad or surprised, angry or even disgusted. Use the emotions you felt to draw your audience back in time and into the picture or scene the speaker created.
Make every effort to develop your evaluation skills. As you develop your evaluation skills, you will also become a better speaker. Observe other evaluators. Ask questions about your evaluations. Pathways have a module, which gives us the opportunity practice evaluations online. With more exposure to a variety of evaluations, you will be able to improve. You will also be able to use your evaluation skills outside of Toastmasters to become more confident in your interactions at work, at home and even at play. Whenever you evaluate, remember we evaluate to motivate.