Speech Evaluation Guidelines
Life cycle of Project from Evaluator's viewThe life cycle of a project can be broken into the following major steps:
Preparation: Before the meetingDon't think that the evaluations are completely impromptu. The speaker would have spent hours or even weeks in preparing the speech. The evaluator should spend at least 15 to 30 minutes preparing, to be able to give best evaluation that the speaker deserves.
Introduce project: At the meeting, before the speechBefore a speech, the Toastmaster invites the evaluator to give a brief of the objective of the speech. Evaluators normally end up reading the objective directly from the manual. Just reading objectives from the manual serves little purpose and often leaves the audience confused. Following are some of the suggestions to make this small allocated time efficient.
Listen to the speech: At the meeting, during the speech
Some tips for evaluations:
Delivering the evaluation: At the meeting, after the speechCarefully select words while delivering the evaluation because, how you say it is as important as the content of the evaluation. Evaluator's objective is to encourage the speaker to give better speech, not to criticize. Following are some of the guidelines for delivering the evaluation. Please read the manual Effective Speech Evaluation for detailed guidelines. It explains each of the below points with an example.
Get feedback on evaluation: After the meetingAfter the meeting, meet the speaker and talk to him/her. Take feedback for your evaluation from the speaker. Get feedback from the audience on your evaluation. See if your evaluation was accurate. These feedbacks will help you give a better evaluation next time.
"Focus on your best and forget the rest."
You've read about evaluations in the manual. But you're still wondering, how does one give a good evaluation? You feel like showing the person you're evaluating ways they can improve, but you don't want them to feel bad. And you would like to point out the things that they did well. How do you spin it into an effective evaluation?
A classic evaluation technique is called "the Sandwich." This is where you first tell the good news, then the bad news, and then more good news. The bad news is sandwiched in between the good.
This technique is slightly better than random talking. At best, the person being evaluated forgets the good news, and starts dwelling on the bad. At worst, you end up looking like you're applying sugar-coating and not being sincere.
The Modified Sandwich
The first step to rectifying the situation is to change "good news" and "bad news" into "strengths" and "weaknesses. " During the beginning of the evaluation, you point out the person's strengths, and how they were manifested during the speech. In the middle, you point out one flaw or weakness that detracted from the speech. At the end, you point out a couple more strengths that you feel the person already has, that they should develop.
This is much better, because now you've identified strengths that the speaker can work on.
This technique, however, is not yet perfect. Here's why. You've pointed out a weakness that the person can work on, but not a way to overcome it. I've blown many a speech working so hard to overcome a weakness, stumbling and stammering while I forced my way through my weakness, that my strengths never had an opportunity to shine through.
The Modified Modified Sandwich
The last modification is to give the speaker a way to overcome the weakness you pointed out. Here's how you might do it.
First, you point out the person's strengths, using examples of how they were manifested in the speech (as in the Modified Sandwich.) Then, you point out one weakness that detracted from the speech, and how it detracted (again, as in the Modified Sandwich.) Finally, you show the user how they can use one or more of their strengths to overwhelm or overcome the weakness.
Here's an example, illustrated recently in a speech by one of our members. Have you every heard a charismatic speaker speak? They move you, they inspire you. But if you listen very carefully and technically, you find that there are plenty of errors in their speeches. Did you care about these errors? No. The content and the speakers focus on their strengths carried them far above and beyond any errors or speaking weaknesses they might have had.
Let's suppose that the speaker you're evaluating made pretty good use of hand gestures, but spoke much too quickly. You noticed that whenever they used their hands for a grand gesture, their speaking slowed down somewhat. Here's how an evaluation might go.
Here, you've complimented Joe and pointed out a natural talent that he should further develop. Then, you point out a weakness. You did not say very much about it, because Joe and the audience already know this is a weakness, and neither need to be beat over the head about it. Finally, you not only complimented Joe's strengths again, but you pointed out a believable way for him to improve his speaking ability without spending any more time beating himself up about a weakness.
Tips for Making Your Job Easier
One thing you should always do is ask the speaker this question before listening to their speech: "What do you consider to be your strengths?" Some people give glib answers, or immediately focus on their weaknesses, so press them for an answer. Rephrase it: "What strengths have people pointed out to you on the evaluation slips you got from previous speeches?" or "I've noticed that you have a tremendous presence, would you consider this your strength?"
This question has two benefits: it tells you what the speakers strengths are before the speech, so you can focus on finding examples of this strength in the speech. It also gives you something positive to talk about in your evaluation. Of course, if you find a strength that the person did not mention, point it out!
Don't then ask "What are your weaknesses!" Instead, you might ask, "What one thing are you trying to improve most in this speech?" At the end of the speech, you'll find either that it wasn't a problem (in which case you should definitely point this out so they can move on!) or that it was. Either way, knowing this ahead of time will allow you to look for strengths in the speaker's style that can be used to mitigate the weakness.
Additionally, the speaker is supposed to meet some of the goals stated for that speech in the manual, and if there is a divergence, this is another opportunity for you to point out strengths that can be used to help the speaker better meet those goals.
Evaluating an Icebreaker
In my opinion, the Icebreaker is no place for negative reinforcement. It is the first few speeches where the new member is most "fragile" and needs a supportive environment the most. Therefore, focus on finding budding strengths and any gems encountered while enjoying the speech. There will be plenty of opportunities for constructive criticism later.
In the beginning of this article I placed a quote, "Focus on your best and forget the rest." I like this quote, not only because I made it up, but also because it really says that if you focus on your strengths and find ways to use them to manage your weaknesses, you won't need to focus on your weaknesses. Your strengths will simply overpower them, and you'll be able to forget them.