It is sometimes said, If Communication and Leadership are at the heart of the Toastmasters program, evaluations are the blood that keeps the Toastmasters program alive. When you are competing at all levels of the evaluation contest, you are honoring a Toastmasters tradition dating back to the program’s beginning. Little preparation may be necessary; however, your success or failure depends on your ability to structure and deliver a two to three-minute impromptu speech base on what you saw, heard, and felt.
Before entering the contest, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the points distribution and rules for Evaluation contests. If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up somewhere else:
Analytical Quality:– Clear & Focus – 40 points.
Recommendations:– Positive, Specific Helpful – 30 points.
Technique:– Sympathetic, Sensitive, Motivational – 15 points.
Summation:– Concise, Encouraging – 15 points.
Total: 100 points
The points distribution shows it would be wise to satisfy the Analytical Quality and Recommendations very early in your Evaluation. Contestants should realize they can only achieve 100 points if they check off all of the boxes. Miss any one of those boxes, and you are leaving points on the table. Work with 3’s. The Speaker’s three best points, three recommendations and three examples. Avoid recommending without giving an example. Your Technique and method of delivery should be identifiable to the Speaker, judges, and audience. Judges will recognize your structure and process when awarding points for clarity and focus.
Evaluation judges will often focus on how the Evaluator used “I” statement to the speakers’ strengths. They may ask themselves, was the Evaluator clear and focused? Was the Evaluation helpful, positive, and specific? Did the Evaluator evaluate to motivate? The Evaluator should not be afraid to detail the items they felt the Speaker might have done better. Identify something; however, don’t seek to find fault with the speaker’s entire presentation. Also, evaluate the speech and not the Speaker. Your experience as an Evaluator will trigger your personal opinion about something that might improve the presentation. Remember, you are evaluating and not coaching. The language you use is most important.
Highlight what struck you as being unique in the presentation. Recognize and praise what was done well. Confine your comments to the speech. As you approach your closing, be sympathetic, sensitive, and motivational. Your last words will linger long after you have spoken. Pay attention to the Speaker’s style and substance. Judges will often award extra points for creative approaches to an Evaluation. For Example, I once saw an evaluator start by praising the Speaker for how he began his address. Immediately after, he spoke about how the Speaker ended the speech. Only then did the Evaluator proceeded to analyze the body and content of the presentation. The structure and style of his Evaluator were easy for the audience and judges to follow.
Your summation is just as important as your opening statement. As you close, speak to the Speaker. Recall your single most constructive suggestion for improving before closing. Leave the Speaker with an action item. Emphasize the Speaker’s message or takeaways. Motivate him or her to continue their journey by giving sincere praise. By doing so, you will be honoring the tradition of the Toastmaster’s Communication and Leadership Program.