One of the most challenging jobs any Toastmaster can have is that of Evaluator. This job carries real responsibility, for you play a major role in determining the amount of growth a fellow Toastmaster will make from his or her speaking experience.
Itís a challenging experience for you, since it requires you examine all the facets of a† speech, draw conclusions, organize and develop constructive suggestions, and then give an interesting and effective offering within two minutes.
Evaluations require close, rapt attention, deep concentration on the Speaker, absorption of the material, appreciation of their style, and disciplined organization of facts. Realize that you will be limited in your evaluations by what you know or are. We largely see ourselves, our knowledge, our strengths and weakness, and our prejudices in the Speaker being evaluated.
After the General Evaluator assigns a Speaker for you to evaluate, call the Speaker and discuss his or her objectives. Review the manual objectives as well as any personal objectives they may have. Get a feel for what they are trying to accomplish with this speech.
When you are an Evaluator, the two key things to keep foremost in your mind are:
1. ††††††† Your chief mission as an evaluator is to HELP the speaker. Do not be distracted by wondering how YOU, someone who may have little speaking experience yourself, can possible be qualified to help another speaker. Remember, even before you are the speakerís Evaluator, you are a member of the audience. Who is better qualified to give the Speaker helpful feedback?
2.†††††††† When thinking about how the Speaker might improve, try to imagine what the speech would have been like if the Speaker had crafted and delivered it in the BEST possible way. Think of how the speech would have looked if it were so good, it was clearly worthy of the Speaker being paid to deliver it. Now give the Speaker suggestions on how they can take the speech to that highest level.
Other helpful tips:
1. ††††††† Use concrete examples. If you point out an area of the speech you feel could be improved, include an example for the Speaker of how they might have done it differently. This is not always possible or necessary, but can be extremely helpful for the Speaker. Example: You are the Evaluator. In your opinion, the opening was weak. During your evaluation, you might say, "I thought the opening of your speech could have been stronger, I think you would have been more effective in getting the audience's attention if you had begun by telling the funny story about how your grandfather...." Again, once you've identified an area for improvement, follow it up by giving a concrete suggestion for how to do it differently.
2. ††††††† Strike a balance between praise and motivation, and suggestions for improvement. In addition to congratulating the Speaker for the things they did well, strive for identifying two or three areas you believe the Speaker should focus in order to improve their† speaking ability. Do not flood them with 10 suggestions for improvement. On the other hand, avoid the "white wash" evaluation - "You are so good, I canít think of any way you could improve." You may feel this way sometimes, but remember, your mission is to help the Speaker improve one way or the other.
3.†††††††† Take a bare minimum of notes while the Speaker is talking. Then, expand your notes in the moments immediately after the Speaker has finished. Divide a sheet of paper into two sections, GOOD and IMPROVE. If you end up with 12 comments (some being good and some being areas for improvement), decide which of those you feel are most important and only mention those few items in your evaluation. The rest of the points can be communicated to the Speaker after the meeting or simply by handing them the sheet with your comments. The most common error in evaluating is trying to cover too much ground by commenting on all observations.