Evaluating a speech in a club setting is a little different from evaluating in a competition. In a club setting, before you begin to evaluate the speaker, the evaluator should first become familiar with the objectives of the project. Every Toastmasters project has a stated set of objectives. It is important for the evaluator to observe the speaker and evaluate his or her presentation based on the project’s objectives and not the objectives the speaker has not yet completed. Meet the speaker where they are presently on their journey.
In both settings, the evaluator should evaluate the project based on what they saw, what they heard what they felt. Not what they wanted to see, wanted to feel or wanted to hear. Everyone reacts differently to a speech. Your evaluation should consider how the speaker and the speech affected you and the audience. Focus more on how the speaker and speech affected you using “I” statements as you recall the strengths of the speaker and the speech. Evaluate any problems you observed and make sure to offer a suggestion.
In a club meeting setting, the evaluator should state the objectives as part of the speaker’s introduction. Did the speaker follow the objectives, is one of the questions the evaluator should answer. Details to look for and comment on are, was the speaker nervous? Did the speaker use eye contact, vocal variety, and gestures? How was the speaker’s energy? Was the speaker sincere, passionate and knowledgeable about the topic? Highlight the positive and give the speaker no more than two items you observed that can benefit the speaker in future projects.
When you are a contestant in an evaluation contest, make yourself a template or Speech Evaluation Work Sheet to use as a guide. While all of the items above apply in a competition setting, you must answer one very important question. What can I do to be different from the rest of the field? This is not the time to be a coach. Start with the speech title, the opening, the body and the conclusion emphasizing the message. It is that simple. End on a positive note and remember whether you in a club meeting or competing, we evaluate to motivate. Evaluations are your gift the speaker. Evaluations are the heart of the Toastmasters educational program.