Last Revised: December 27, 2002
Early in the week, you touch base with the Speaker whose presentation you will evaluate to learn if he/she wants you to look and/or listen for anything special. You do not have to wait for the General Evaluator to call you to do this. Please make a good faith effort to do this by Monday.
The day of the meeting, you arrive early, touch base with the General Evaluator and Speaker, and obtain the Speaker’s manual.
Prior to the presentation, you review the manual, taking special note of the assignment objectives and the form you will complete at the conclusion of the speech.
During the presentation, you pay close attention to the Speaker, noting how well he/she meets his/her objectives. You will probably want to take notes.
At the conclusion of the presentation, you complete the evaluation form in the Speaker’s manual.
When called upon by the General Evaluator, you briefly evaluate the Speaker’s presentation (see guidelines below). You may wish to use notes, especially if you are a relatively inexperienced Evaluator. Be concise; you have a maximum of two minutes.
At the conclusion of your evaluation, you return control to the General Evaluator and give the wireless microphone to the next Evaluator.
Your objectives are to motivate the Speaker to develop further his/her strengths and improve his/her weaknesses by evaluating his/her speech honestly, fairly, and in a supportive manner. Guidelines for the art of evaluating are numerous; only a few will be highlighted here. If you have not been an Evaluator recently, please review them.
Clearly state whether or not the Speaker has met his/her objectives. If, in your opinion, he/she has not, say so, and invite the Speaker to rework the speech and present it again at another meeting. Avoid repeating objectives verbatim from the manual; the Toastmaster should have read them when introducing the Speaker.
You may wish to use notes, especially if you are a relatively inexperienced Evaluator.
Select your words carefully, e.g., avoid saying, “I will now evaluate Jim Smith.” Instead, say, “I will now evaluate Jim Smith’s speech.” There is a difference.
Highlight a few of the presentation’s strengths.
Honestly discuss a few of the presentation’s weaknesses and suggest how the Speaker can improve. Avoid cataloging weaknesses without making suggestions for improvement. Avoid coming on like a ton of bricks; always be supportive in addition to honest.
Consider using the “sandwich” approach, which comprises: (a) highlighting a few strengths, (b) highlighting a few weaknesses, and (c) concluding by highlighting a significant strength. This approach, which ends on a positive note, helps to ensure that a Speaker will not feel overwhelmed by criticism at the conclusion of your evaluation.
Use “I-statements”, e.g., “I feel that…”, “I would have liked…”, or “I think that…” Avoid “you-statements” coupled with pontificating, e.g., “You should have. . . .” or “You must…” Similarly, avoid expressions such as, “A good speaker always does such-and-such” or “In Toastmasters we must always do such-and-such”.
Take the Speaker’s experience into consideration. You might be more critical and demanding of a well experienced Speaker. However, you still strive to be tactful and supportive.
Avoid criticizing the content of the speech or expressing your agreement or disagreement with the Speaker’s ideas. Instead, concentrate on evaluating the presentation against the Speaker’s objectives.
Avoid repeating or summarizing the content of the Speaker’s presentation. Instead, concentrate on evaluating the presentation against the Speaker’s objectives.
Avoid interjecting yourself inappropriately into the evaluation. For example, avoid telling anecdotes about yourself, even if they are related to the Speaker’s presentation. Again, concentrate on evaluating the presentation against the Speaker’s objectives.
No matter how experienced a Speaker is, no matter how polished his/her presentation is, room for improvement virtually always exists. It is your responsibility to identify ways in which such a speaker can improve. Therefore, please do so.
Avoid highlighting a presentation’s strengths only. If you find only strengths, you are are whitewashing, which fails to help the Speaker to improve.
Avoid ending with a boring cliché, e.g., “Thank you for a fantastic speech. I am looking forward to more.” Be creative.