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Effective Speech Evaluation

Misconception: "I can't give evaluations yet because I'm not an experienced speaker myself!"

Anyone can give an effective evaluation; it is not necessary for you to be a trained and experienced speaker to do it.

For example: if you witnessed a car accident right now, you could describe:

What you heard;
What you saw;
What you felt.

Because that's really the basis of what you're doing when you evaluate a speech.

Your primary goal is to help the speaker improve and become more effective.

1. Take notes during the speech. Split your page into two columns. On one side you can record all the positive aspects of the speech. On the other side record all the weak aspects. In both cases use the three elements: what you heard, saw, and felt to guide your notes.

2. Structure your notes into an evaluation speech. How should you structure the elements of what you heard, saw, and felt into a constructive two to three minute evaluation?

a. What did the speaker do right and is worth repeating? (the good)
The first portion consists of all the positive aspects you heard, saw, and felt.

b. What could the speaker do better? (recommended improvements)
The middle portion consists of all the weak aspects and constructive suggestions for improvement.

c. Make the speaker want to try again! (reinforce the good)
The last part consists of encouragement, repeating some of the positive issues.

3. What we want to avoid during an evaluation:

Avoid intermingling or mixing up the positive and weak aspects. Keep them separated.

Avoid "white wash", telling the speaker how wonderful the presentation was without offering any advise or constructive recommendations for improvement. This may give the speaker the wrong impression and will fail to encourage the speaker to improve in the future.

Avoid "meat grinding", slaughtering or beating up the speaker with excessive negative observations and too few positive ones. Remember your objective and the speaker's reason for joining Toastmasters because the speaker may be adversely affected by your comments and may either refuse to speak to you again or quit the Toastmasters club.

Notes taken by Neil Gavin during a training program presented by Linnaea Mallette, DTM, ATM-S, PDG

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Composed with care by Peter Bunce, DTM, ATM-S
Updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2009

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