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 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.
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 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.
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.
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)