Evaluations. They are the strongest resource in the Toastmasters program . . . and the scariest.
Many people dread having to stand up and give an evaluation for one of their Toastmaster peers. Can you relate? They worry about “pointing out what is wrong” or being critical of a speaker in development.
Others feel like they lack the speaking experience to offer helpful, encouraging or supportive in evaluations.
I understand both the fear of being critical and second guessing your speaking experience — for I have been there. But I want to offer you a different perspective. Let’s start with . . . .
Why We Evaluate
The purpose of evaluations is to help fellow members become better speakers and leaders. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to enhance their public speaking skills. Perhaps you are shy and want to connect one-on-one with members of the community. Perhaps you are looking to take your new product or idea to a wider audience. Whatever the reasons, member want two things:
1) To improve their speaking skills
2) To know how to improve
Evaluations help to highlight the speaker’s strengths and areas where they could expand, grow or develop. Evaluations are a source of information that the speaker processes and uses to build their next speech. It is how we improve. It is not “being critical” but looking for the one tip, gem, that will help their next speech.
Evalutions are helpful, supportive and encouraging. They are the evaluators opinion — which means everyone can offer their perspective regarding of their Toastmasters experience.
With the club Evaluations Contest in April, here are a few tips from the Successful Communication Series Workbook to elevate your next speech evaluation:
1) Show you care: let the speaker know your opinions are coming from a positive place meant to lift them up and encourage them.
2) Match your evaluation to the speaker: Where is the speaker in the Toastmasters program? How is their confidence? Insecurity? Offer up a suggestion that fits their level without being a jump out of their comfort zone.
3) Be specific and use examples: Praise and suggestions are more meaninful when given specific information and examples. This helps the speaker to connect your evaluation content to the content of their speech.
4) Be authentic in your comments and feedback. Honesty helps to promote self-esteem and help the speaker learn. Honesty is the most valuable element you can insert into your evaluation.
The best evaluations come from your unique perspecitve. They offer honest feedback (positive and suggestions).