Perhaps only second to giving an IceBreaker speech, newcomers to Toastmasters fear giving their first evaluation of somebody else’s speech.
In most clubs, you’ll be asked to be an evaluator after you’ve given five or six of your own speeches. By then, you’ll have had the opportunity to receive your own evaluations and if you’re attending your meetings on a regular basis you’ll have heard many other evaluations.
In order to take out the fear factor when it comes to evaluations, Toastmasters offers lots of tools. For example, the Effective Evaluation manual which is available online is essential reading.
Here you’ll learn the importance of preparation before the speech and there’s an excellent description of the role of the evaluator.
Preparation is key to delivering an evaluation that your speaker can actually use. Your evaluation should focus on the objectives of the speech as outlined in the speech manual and you should have made the opportunity to talk to your speaker before the meeting to discover what specific challenges the speaker is hoping to accomplish.
While there are a variety of outlines that some evaluators use (content, style and deliver; what I liked, what I loved, what I’d suggest) all evaluations should begin and end with praise.
Thankfully as I rose to give my evaluation I was struck with the thought that this speaker had done the best he could and that was worthy of praise so I began by saying “I am guessing that speech was huge challenge for you and I want to acknowledge what a big step this must have been for you tonight.”
Our speaker just glowed with pride and from there I was able to offer that in upcoming speeches I would be looking to see even more vocal variety and even more volume so the people at the back of the room could enjoy the speech. And, again I ended with praise for this brave new speaker.
This type of evaluation is what keeps speakers coming back. There’s lots of learning here with praise on either side. It’s kind of like an evaluation sandwich.
All evaluations are in themselves mini speeches. You start with praise and you offer your opinions on what went right and what to practice for next time and you end with a summary that includes more praise.
That’s the key to successful evaluations that are fear free.