6 Bad Habits to Avoid when Delivering an Evaluation

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To be a great speech evaluator one of the most important lessons to learn is  how not to evaluate. In this post I’m going to share six common habits to watch out for and avoid doing.

Being Too Thorough

It’s natural to want to talk about every success point and area for improvement when you give your evaluation so that you give the best feedback to the speaker but you only have 2-3 minutes so there simply isn’t enough time, choose the key points and save the rest for after the meeting when you follow up with the speaker.

Whitewashing

Whitewashing is when you spend the whole evaluation praising the speaker, listing all the many ways that the speaker is wonderfu. This is very supportive but it’s not genuine, nobody is that good, every speech can be improved. Talking only about positives without any recommendations will not help a speaker improve and grow. Give a sincere, balanced evaluation and show the speaker how they can become evem better.

Regurgitation

One common mistake is when an evaluator gives a summary of the speaker’s speech as part of their evaluation. This isnt very helpful, firstly the audience has already heard the speech so they don’t need to be reminded of what was said and secondly you only have 2-3 minutes for your evaluation and giving a summary takes up precious time.  You can refer to phrases or sections of the speech  in your evaluation but do it to illustrate your points, there’s no need to retell the speech.

Should

Should is a strong word, it’s an instruction, it’s tells people what to do. When you give an evaluation you make suggestions, and then the speaker decides if which suggestions they want to use so don’t tell people what they “should” do, instead suggest what they “could” do.

But

Another dangerous word is “but” in your evaluations, it can have the effect of negating all the positive language you use and focussing the speaker’s and audiences attention on a negative aspect of the speech, for example saying “Jack had amazing body language BUT…” means that even Jack’s amazing body language isn’t important, isn’t worth celebrating it’s part of a problem and in Toastmasters we don’t talk about problems we talk about areas to improve.

Cliches

Sometimes we fall into using the same set of phrases when we give an evaluation and it can sound a bit impersonal and insincere so instead of using clichés that everybody uses like “Overall it was a great speech and I look forward to your next one” make every evaluation special for your speaker, personalise your language and phrases just for them.

 

This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator to learn more about evaluating check out these posts:

 

image: Nic Redhead (Flickr)

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The Secret to Helping a Speaker Grow

Hash Milhan (2089058279_19e60328a4_b)Effective evaluations are all down to the recommendations that you give. Your suggestions to your speaker will be the main driving force that helps your evaluatees grow as speakers and become effective communicators.

Tips for Recommendations

  1. Be prepared. Talk to the speaker before the presentation, they will be able to tell you the areas that they want to work on and the areas that they’ve had difficulty with in the past, make sure to look out for these during the speech and find ways to to help the speaker become stronger in those aspects of their presentation.
  2. Focus on how the speaker can get better. For every area of improvement, have a recommendation. And don’t just look at the weak areas of a presentation, also look at the speaker’s strengths, are there areas that could go from good to great and what steps are needed to make that happen?
  3. Be specific. Give detailed instructions on what needs to be done to make the speech stronger and be sure to explain why taking these actions will make the speech better, it adds a lot of value to the speaker if you explain why.
  4. Always give recommendations. You can’t help a speaker improve if you don’t give them recommendations. That can be difficult because you may not want to upset the speaker or because the speaker is very good. Do not worry about upsetting a speaker, they want to improve and they want you to help them. As for good speakers, no speaker is THAT good, there’s always something that can get better, be really picky, if there’s 15 seconds of the presentation that didn’t work for you then concentrate on that.

How Many Recommendations?

Sometimes the effectiveness of an evaluation comes down to the number of recommendations that you give. Naturally the amount of feedback depends on each speaker but a good guide is:

Icebreakers:  1 recommendation
2nd – 5th Speech:  2 recommendations
6th – 10th Speech:  2-3 recommendations

For advanced speakers they will want to know how they can push their speaking to new heights so focus more on recommendations than strengths and give as many suggestions as you can.

Above all else remember the most important rule of all: Always give recommendations!

 

This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator. To learn more about evaluating, check out these posts:

 

image: Hash Milan (Flickr)

Crafting an Evaluation that Educates the Whole Audience

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For every member of Cogito Toastmasters the evaluation section is the most valuable part of our meetings. As each evaluator delivers their feedback the whole audience has the chance to learn tips and tricks that will help them to become stronger speakers and communicators.

So how can you deliver an evaluation that is valuable for both the speaker and also for the whole audience?

It’s all down to the language that you use when you give the evaluation, and, more specifically, who you speak to. Sometimes we’re so focused on helping the speaker that we look  directly at the speaker and only speak to them. We say things like “I like how you did…”, ” I loved it when you…”, “I feel that if you try…” On one hand this is great as it shows that you’re truly prioritizing the needs of the speaker but there are some potential problems with this approach:

  1. Speaking directly to the speaker and giving them all that attention might make them feel uncomfortable i.e due to:
    • shyness
    • being uncomfortable when given compliments
    • discomfort when being told their areas for improvement.
  2. The rest of the audience is may feel left out as you’re not talking to them instead it may seem that you’re having a conversation with the speaker and if they feel ignored they might not listen to the great tips that you’re giving.

There is a simple way to solve both these problems, talk about the speaker in the third person, i.e. don’t say “you” or “your”, use the speaker’s name. For instance, instead of “your gestures were evocative”, say “David’s gestures were evocative, when he…”  or instead of “your speech can be improved by”  say “David’s speech can be enhanced by…”

By doing this you reduce the spotlight on the speaker, making them feel less like the centre of attention yet still giving the help that they need while at the same time you’ve included everyone else in the room and shared your tips and tricks with them.

Next time you’re giving an evaluation in  front of an audience, remember to extend your delivery out from the speaker to include the whole group.

 

This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator. To learn more about evaluating, check out these posts:

 

image: InnovateOSU (Flickr)

The Secret to Effective Evaluations

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Like with giving speeches, the quickest way to become an effective evaluator is through feedback. There are three great sources of feedback available to you in every Toastmaster meeting:

  1. Your Speaker
  2. The General Evaluator
  3. Club Members

 

Your Speaker

Your primary source of feedback is always the speaker themselves.

After the meeting, sit down with the speaker and find out how THEY felt about your evaluation:

  1. Did they agree with your assessment?
  2. Were you were too harsh or too gentle?
  3. How useful were your suggestions?
  4. Did parts of your evaluation make them uncomfortable?
  5. Did you say something that upset them?

Talk to them and see what suggestions and recommendations they can give you so that you can use that feedback in your next evaluation.

 

The General Evaluator

Talk to the General Evaluator in advance, tell them about the areas that you want to work on, your personal objectives for the evaluation and ask them to give feedback and recommendations based on this after the meeting.

 

Club Members

Ask a club member to evaluate your evaluation.

This can be done either informally with a quick chat after the meeting or in a structured manner by using the projects in the Competent Leadership or one of the many evaluation forms available from Toastmasters International.

 

The more feedback you get as an evaluator the better you will be able use your evaluations to inspire and motivate your evaluatees to become stronger speakers and presenters.

 

This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator. To learn more about evaluating, check out these posts:

 

image: Dennis Skley (Flickr)

Use Your Evaluation To Inspire

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On the surface an evaluation at Toastmasters is about showing a speaker their strengths and suggesting how they can improve further but a great evaluation goes further, a great evaluation will inspire your speaker to become a better communicator. A great evaluation will make them excited about their next speech they’ll start planning it immediately and they’ll be imagining how amazing they’re going to be. This should always be your goal when you give an evaluation.

This is not as difficult as it might sound.

The best place to inject inspiration into your evaluation is in the conclusion, it will have the most impact there. In your conclusion be sure to include the following:

  • Acknowledge – Acknowledge all that the speaker has achieved so far, this shows them that they are already on the path to their goals and they’ve already achieved great things.
  • Believe – Encourage them, show them that you believe that they have the ability to reach their personal speaking goals.
  • Challenge – Challenge them, give them a new target to aim for, keep them striving to be better speakers.

The key to success is your choice of challenge. It could something small like not using notes or controlling a crutch-word or it could be a bigger step like speaking outside the club or taking part in a speech contest. From your preparation you already know what level the speaker is at, you know what their goals and objectives are and you have seen the speech so use this information to select an achievable but challenging task for the speaker.

Make them excited by the new challenge. Show them that you believe that they can achieve it. Inspire them.

 

This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator. To learn more about evaluating, check out these posts:

 

image: symphony of love/chattygd (flickr)

Evaluation Tip: Organise Your Evaluation

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Evaluations are challenging.

You have to watch and listen carefully to a speech while at the same time trying making notes on the strong points and the areas that could be stronger and then you have 20-30 minutes to work out what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it and come up with solid suggestions to help your speaker become a more effective communicator.

It’s little wonder that with all this pressure that some evaluations can sound a bit disorganised but there is a very easy way to get around this problem, you need to remember that a good evaluation is a speech. Thinking of it as a speech gives you an automatic structure with a beginning, middle and end. Using this will help you sound more organised and confident when giving your evaluation.

Here are the 5 steps you can use to build an organised evaluation:

  1. For your opening, keep it simple, connect with the speaker and give brief outline of what you’re going to cover in your evaluation.
  1. Select a structure for your evaluation. Here are some popular structures:

The Sandwich method: Begin with something that the speaker did well then give an improvement with a helpful recommendation and wrap up with another of the speaker’s strengths.

P.O.S.E (Positives, Objectives, Suggestions, Encouragement): Start with the speaker’s strengths, outline the objectives for the speech, show the speaker how they can bring the speech to a higher level and round out with some encouraging words.

P.I.E.S (Positives, Improvements, Encouragement, Summary): Start with the speaker’s strengths, then suggestions and recommendations, encouragement and finish off with a summary of your evaluation.

G.L.O.V.E (Gestures, Language, Organisation, Voice, Enthusiasm): Break your evaluation into five sections – body language,  words and language used, speech structure, vocal variety and the passion of the speaker.

Try out different structures to see which suits the speakers’s needs best, if none of them work then look at developing your own structure.

  1. Read through your notes and choose only 2 or 3 points to discuss. Remember that you only have 2-3 minutes for your evaluation, if you choose too much to talk about then you will go over time. When selecting talking points concentrate on the strongest strengths and the areas in need of the most improvement.
  1. Don’t take your notes on stage with you. Instead, transfer the points that you want to talk about onto a separate piece of paper or better yet, put each point on its own notecard. This allows you to arrange your notes into the structure chosen above which helps you give a clear and focused evaluation.
  1. Wrap up with a very brief summary and some final words of encouragement for the speaker.

By following these steps you will be able to build and deliver a structured and focused evaluation which will ultimately help the speaker and the whole audience become more effective speakers and presenters.

 

This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator. To learn more about evaluating, check out these posts:

 

Image: marco antonio torres (flickr)

Evaluation Tip: Plan and Prepare Your Evaluation

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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:

  1.  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.
  1. 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?

  1. Using the manual objectives and the speaker’s personal objectives, make a checklist of areas to watch out for during the speech.
  1. 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?

 

This post is part of our series of tips to help you become a better evaluator. To learn more about evaluating, check out these posts:

 

Image: Samuel Mann (Flickr)