When you take on the role of being an evaluator at a Toastmasters meeting, your main objective should be to inspire your speaker to become a better communicator.
The key to doing this effectively is preparation.
The more you prepare, the better you will be able to help the speaker improve.
While most toastmasters can give a “good enough” evaluation if they talk to a speaker five minutes before a club meeting, it is when we take the opportunity to put in more preparation time that we find that have the ability to deliver a great evaluation that is tailor-made for our speaker’s goals and needs.
There are 4 steps to perfect preparation:
- Read the project description so that you are clear about the objectives for the speech. Do this every time. Even if you’ve evaluated the project many times, read the objective again, remember this is not for you but to help you give the best feedback to your speaker.
- Contact the speaker. If you can, try to do this about a week before the meeting. Find out more about them and their own personal speaking objectives because we don’t join toastmasters to complete manuals, we join to improve ourselves or to gain confidence. The more you can cater for these personal goals the better you will be able to help the speaker. Here are some sample questions you could ask:
Are there any areas from previous projects that they want to work on?
Do they have any personal objectives for that project?
What are their long term improvement goals?
What type of feedback would they appreciate?
- Using the manual objectives and the speaker’s personal objectives, make a checklist of areas to watch out for during the speech.
- The day before and also just before the meeting, touch base with the speaker so that you’re up to date with their progress and are aware of any issues that have been overcome or new issues encountered by the speaker.
It is by following these 4 steps that you will be able to craft an evaluation that will focus on the needs of the speaker and give them the best chance to grow as a speaker and communicator.
I know that this sounds like a lot of work for a simple evaluation but let me ask you a question:
If you were the speaker, which would you prefer?
An evaluator who just glances over the project or someone who takes the time to prepare?
Image: Samuel Mann (Flickr)