Evaluate!

What does it take to be a great evaluator in Toastmasters?

More importantly (as we enter the contest season), how do you give a winning evaluation?

First – Open Strong. The first words out of your mouth should be something great about the presentation. i.e. “Mike, it’s clear that you did quite a bit of research to bring us this presentation, and it showed. Mister Contest Master, fellow toastmasters and guests, Mike’s speech really hit the mark today, wouldn’t you agree?” Find something that you saw the audience react to and use it to get them to agree with you early.

Avoid: “For the next 3 minutes and 30 seconds…” in your intro. It’s redundant, it wastes time, and worst of all is says your main concern is the clock, not the speaker.

Next – Be Specific. There’s nothing more useless than hearing “if you made your closing longer, it would have made the speech stronger.” Really? You don’t say? Your advice is “add more closing”?

Try this: “Teresa, your closing felt rushed to me. You want to accomplish a couple of things during that time. One, summerize your points, and two, leave us with your best takeaway. When you see the green light, that should be your cue to finish up your last main point. Be done by the yellow and you’ll have time for a complete closing…”

Always – Care. They can tell when you don’t. This starts before the speaker is introduced. You have to approach the evaluation as if the speaker came to you and said, “My job depends on getting this right. Can you help me?” If your goal isn’t to help the speaker, then the judges probably won’t help you.

Finally – Summarize and be positive. The most important feedback you can give is to tell them what they specifically did well, and how to repeat it.

Avoid: “I look forward to your next speech.” Not because it’s trite, but because it’s vague. Be specific. Give them a reason you’re looking forward to the next speech, “John, You really hit the nail on the head with your woodworking tips, and I look forward to seeing how you’re next speech will give us more cool ideas for home improvement.”

Other thoughts: I’ve seen quite a few techniques, like G.L.O.V.E.,  A.C.E. and others used in competition, and the results are mixed. When I watch these evaluations, I ask myself is what you’re doing for the speaker or for yourself? If you use one of those techniques, it’s for the speaker. If you spend time describing it first, then it’s for you. Make sense?

Will these tips gaurentee you a win? Of course not. But if you open strong, care, and be specific in your feedback you’ll be competitive and more importantly you’ll help your speaker keep getting better. Isnt’ that what it’s really about?

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