There is no instructor in a Toastmasters club – we are our own teachers. We take turns evaluating each other so we all improve our skills.

Why We Evaluate Each Other

Everyone benefits from the evaluation process:

For the speaker, an evaluation is a powerful learning aid as it provides direct feedback following the speaker’s presentation. A good evaluation helps the speaker find specific areas for improvement and encourages growth and learning.

For the evaluator, an evaluation provides an opportunity to help others develop valuable personal skills. It also develops effective listening skills as it requires the evaluator to carefully listen to the presentation so that he/she can express a meaningful impression of the presentation to the speaker.

For the club, an evaluation contributes to a high standard of excellence. Our club’s reason for being is to help members improve their communication skills. The evaluation process is a big part of this.

Ten Guidelines of an Effective Evaluator

  • SHOW THAT YOU CARE: Be sincere and genuine. Include constructive recommendations for improvement.
  • SUIT YOUR EVALUATION TO THE SPEAKER: How you evaluate depends upon whom you evaluate. Adapt your evaluation to the needs, objectives, sensitivities and experience level of the speaker.
  • LEARN THE SPEAKER’S OBJECTIVES: Prepare in advance. Contact the speaker before the meeting. Ask the speaker where their strengths or weaknesses are and review the manual objectives and evaluation guidelines.
  • LISTEN ACTIVELY: Keep in mind the speaker’s objectives and goals while paying close attention during the speech. Be physically and mentally alert – listen with your eyes as well as your ears. Keep an eye on the effectiveness of the presentation. Empathize with the speaker.
  • PERSONALIZE YOUR LANGUAGE: When giving an evaluation, you are telling the speaker and the club your impressions of the presentation – you are not a judge. Don’t criticize. Use language to reflect this, such as “My reaction was …”, “It appears to me …”, or “I suggest …”. Avoid statements such as “You should have …”, “You failed to …”, “Your opening was …”.
  • GIVE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT: Let the speaker know that they have done a good job! Recognize their accomplishments. Remember, though, that hollow flattery will not help the speaker. Find something praiseworthy and recognize it sincerely.
  • HELP THE SPEAKER BECOME MOTIVATED: As an evaluator, you can help a speaker become motivated. Remind the speaker that their goals are worthwhile and attainable. Encourage the speaker to work hard towards improving their speaking skills.
  • EVALUATE THE BEHAVIOR – NOT THE PERSON: Evaluate what the speaker does – not who the speaker is!
  • NOURISH THE BEHAVIOR: End your evaluation on a positive note. Strive to have the speaker leave the room feeling better about themselves than before the meeting. Have the individual feel accomplished, reward, accepted and motivated to improve even more.
  • SHOW THE SPEAKER HOW TO IMPROVE: The single most important part of an evaluation, your central purpose in evaluation is to help the speaker improve. Here are three tips for achieving this purpose: (a) focus on what the speaker should be doing, not what they should not be doing; (b) select only one or two areas which you feel the speaker can make the greatest degree of improvement in their next speech; and, (c) present recommendations in a positive way – show the speaker how to improve, not just what to improve.

When you given an evaluation, whether verbal or written, you are giving your impressions of a speech – you are not judging. Most importantly, you are helping the speaker improve. By helping a speaker improve, you are helping yourself and the club improve.

What Should I Evaluate?

An evaluation is your impression of the speech – what most impressed you about the speech or areas where improvement is necessary. To be of value, an evaluation should be specific and offer useful suggestions and observations. Specifically, you may wish to evaluate a speech based on …

SPEECH DEVELOPMENT is the way the speaker puts ideas together so the audience can understand them. The speech is structured around a purpose or theme and the structure must include an opening, body and conclusion. A good speech imemdiately engages the audience’s attention and then builds to a meaningful conclusion.

EFFECTIVENESS refers to your subjective judgement of how the speech came across. What was the purpose or theme of the speech? Did the speech relate directly to that purpose or theme? Was humor used effectively?

  • SPEECH VALUE justifies the act of speaking. The speaker has a responsibility to say something meaningful and original to the audience – the ideas should be important. Did the speaker meet his/her speech objectives?
  • AUDIENCE RESPONSE reflects the audience’s reaction to the speech. Did the speech hold the audience’s interest. Did the audience understand what the speaker was trying to relate?
  • PHYSICAL presentation of a speech carries part of the responsibility for effective communication. The speaker’s appearance should reinforce the speech. Body language should support points through gestures, expressions, eye contact and body positioning.
  • VOICE is the sound that carries the message. It should be flexible, moving from one pitch level to another for emphasis, and should have a variety of rate and volume. A good voice can be clearly heard and the words easily understood.
  • MANNER is the direct revelation of the speaker’s real self as the speech is delivered. The speaker should speak with enthusiasm and assurance, showing interest in the audience and confidence in their reactions.
  • APPROPRIATENESS of language refers to the choice of words that relate to the speech’s purpose and to the particular audience hearing the speech. Language should promote clear understanding of thoughts, shold fir the occassion and should be in good taste.
  • CORRECTNESS of language ensures that attention will be directed toward what the speaker says, not how it is said. Proper use of grammer and correct pronunciation will show that the speaker is the master of the words being used.

Please remember … be constructive in your evaluation. Your role is to help your fellow member improve their presentation skills by critiquing the skills and techniques used by the speaker, not to argue opinions or ideas presented in the speech.

Pur yourself in the speaker’s shoes …