Great Toastmasters Speech Evaluations: How to Get and Keep Them

Great Toastmasters Evaluations forms and management Toastmasters 101

Great Toastmasters Speech Evaluations don’t happen by accident.

How do you get them and how do you keep them?

Toastmasters speech evaluations are the key tool to improving your public speaking.

I just came across a speech evaluation that I have a picture of on my phone.

I don’t know why I had it.  It didn’t have the evaluator’s name or the speech title on it.  No date, no project, no recognizable phone number.  Someone had sent a picture of it to me.

So… essentially, I had an evaluation that did nothing for me.

Are you struggling with the online evaluations process?  Let’s put some thought into how we are handling our speech evalutions online – from the speaker side and from the evaluator side.

Intro

Do you want to improve your public speaking? Are you effective in spreading your message to impact the world?  Toastmasters provides you with a fun and safe meeting to give you the opportunity to stretch and develop your public speaking skills online and on site.  This is Toastmasters 101 and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

Why we need Toastmasters speech evaluations

I’m attending an online conference this week about podcasting.  This is my fifth year attending.  Sadly, we’re not in person this time. Even more sadly, I’m watching these presentations online and I’ve seen a significant number of speakers who need Toastmasters.  I want to give them Toastmasters speech evaluations.

But – it’s not a Toastmasters meeting.  It’s where the rubber hits the road, as we say here in Akron, Ohio.  These presentations are what we train for during our Toastmasters meetings.

This is why it is critical that we get and give good evaluations at our Toastmasters meeting.  Look, if that guy who just gave an insightful, fact-full presentation that I feel was worth my time to listen to – but his slides were abominable – had taken this presentation to a Toastmasters meeting, I believe that someone – either his evaluator, the general evaluator, or just a fellow Toastmaster after the meeting – would have said, “Dude.  Can’t read the slides.  Don’t read from the slides.”  That presenter could have changed just a few things to improve his presentation 100%.

Does your club assign evaluators at the meetings?  I’d say that 75% of the time (a number I just made up) that our evaluators are appointed approximately 5 minutes before they start.  That’s not 5 minutes before the meeting – too often I see the evaluators are the last people in the room and they get asked to step up at the last minute.

So, speakers, here are a few things you can do to improve your Toastmasters speech evaluations

  1. Recruit your evaluator and get them to sign up in advance.

This is one of those chicken/egg situations.  I like hard evaluations.  I like to hear nitpicky details about my speech presentation.  I’m not a glutton for punishment.  I want to learn from the evaluator’s perspective of what worked and what does not.

I’m not bragging here.  I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for over 10 years.  I know a lot about speech construction and delivery.  Far too often I hear new members say, “You’re so good, I don’t have any suggestions for you.”

By asking someone to evaluate you in advance, you have the opportunity to tell them what you’re concerned about in your presentation.  This does mean you’re going to have to prepare the speech enough in advance that you know the specific areas that you want comments about.  I mentioned on previous podcasts that you should be signing up for many roles in advance, so you should know in plenty of time what your speech project is and what you need the evaluator to watch for.

Choosing Your Speech Evaluator

When you pick your evaluator, they’re prepared when they arrive to evaluate YOU.  Let’s face it, it’s flattering to be asked.  You think so highly of their opinion that you’ve requested it.

I often look for newbies or guests in a club to evaluate me.  That’s because they don’t know me and my quirks.  They’ll catch those idiosyncracies a lot faster than people who have heard me give dozen of speeches.  Now, I can’t often get a hold of a guest Toastmaster ahead of time, but their new perspective is invaluable to me.  The same with newbies.  I want the new set of eyes on me, the new set of ears to hear me, and the new perspective they’re going to give me.

2.  Send them the evaluation form as early as possible at the beginning of the meeting.

When we have access to the agendas on Free Toast Host or Easy Speak, we may also have access to the evaluation form if the speaker has ticked the right box.  But if we’re getting the last person to walk into the room to be our evaluator, will they have time to get it, read it, and be prepared to evaluate you by the time you get up to speak?

Probably not.  This is why I think it’s important that you, as the speaker, have the evaluation form ready to give to your evaluator.  Ask them what’s the best way for them to get it – through the Zoom chat?  Email?  Text?

I don’t think that Toastmasters International had pandemics in mind when they created the online evaluation download system we have now, but it has made this situation easier because you can have confidence that your evaluator can get the form.

If they can find it.

Hey, TI, if you’re listening – is there any way at all I can set my language and then never have to do it again?  Because when I see the name of my project and download the French version – again – I get frustrated.  Just saying.

Finding an evaluation form on the Pathways platform looks easy.  You go to the Toastmasters.org website.  Then you log in.  Then you go to the Pathways menu and select Go to Basecamp so I end up on my page with my current Paths and projects.  Then I pick Tutorials and Resources and click on that several times before I realize I have to click on the menu bar the opens below it.  Then I select Evaluation Resources,  then my language, and then, I try to find my project, which often has another word like Advanced or Building or Connect.  When I was a Pathways Guide, I was told to use the search bar, which is why I keep getting the French versions – I don’t see the language in the search bar until after I’ve clicked on it.

After all the finding, then there’s the downloading.

Look, speaker, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that this process is not yet simple enough and I hope that TI at some point, makes this simpler.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to set a language for your profile, see an alphabetical list of evaluations based on the keyword  – like Podcast, not Create a Podcast – and be able to email or text or message it directly to the evaluator?  A girl can dream, right?

My point is this:  your evaluator has to go through all those steps.  If I tell my evaluator that I’m doing the podcast project, they’re not looking for Create a Podcast.

This is NOT a fast process.  And you’re creating a bit of a panic for your evaluator if they have to go look for your evaluation.  Even if they have to go to your agenda site and download it – there’s still a log in, there’s still the scrolling and downloading and maybe printing.

Save everyone the headache.

I’ve created a folder on my computer where all my evaluation forms – clean and unused – are kept.  While working on the project, I download the evaluation form.  I can open that folder and find the saved evaluation form – which is saved with a name that matters to me, not the code name that TI has given the form, such as 8305E Evaluation Resource FFE. That’s the Inspire Your Audience evaluation form, for those of you scoring at home.

Download your form and have it ready to send to your evaluator.  Send it in advance, if you know your evaluator.  And have it ready at the meeting, because you’re still going to ask them to go find it.  Just make it simple for everyone.  Speakers, take responsibility to get the form to the evaluator.

3. Print up or have the evaluation form in front of you during the evaluation of your speech.  Names, dates, speech title, comments – write them all down.  Paper or emails don’t always come back to us, so you need a record for your files.  If you get one from the evaluator, then you won’t need this.  If you don’t – you will want it.

Customizing Your Toastmasters Speech Evalations

4.   Tell your evaluator what you want them to watch for.

Back in the before times, we used to have paper copies of the evaluation forms at the meetings.  I could write on the top:  If I say “So” more than 2 times, use this squirt gun and aim for something that will embarrass me.  I was expected to provide the evaluation and, if necessary, the squirt gun.

No, I never had a squirt gun evaluation.  But I know who in my club I’d ask for that from!

Tell people what to watch for – but be aware, you’ll be hyper-aware of that foible and you probably won’t do it during the speech.  Like filler words, when you’re paying attention, you don’t use them.

So is it worth it to tell them what to watch for?  Yes.  Because if you do it anyway, you’ll learn about where and when and why from the experience, and you’ll improve.

Why we only ask for problems in our evaluators instead of what we do right – that’s the question, isn’t it?

That’s a key part of the evaluation method.  Pointing out what we do well.

Let’s talk about the evaluator’s side of this.

Be honest with us.  You don’t have to be brutal.  I try to be specific and once, I was told that I was being a bully, which is never my intent.  As speakers, we need to be open to the comments, but as evaluators, we have to temper how we make our comments.

  1.  Use the evaluation form if you can for the written evaluation. 

Sometimes the Toastmasters speech evaluations forms aren’t available.  There is a generic speech evaluation form, and honestly, it’s probably the most useful evaluation form we have because while it doesn’t cover the specifics of the project speech, it does have all the key components of the evaluation:  what did the speaker do well, what can they improve, and how can they challenge themselves.  Then page 2, where we give a continuum evaluation on speech skills.  If you don’t have anything else, use that.  If you can’t get that, then write down those three things and anything else you want the speaker to know about your view of that presentation.

There are always things that you can comment about, even if the speaker is soooo good.  Talk about what you saw, what you heard, and how your felt.  Those three things – you can certainly talk about those 3 things.  Your speaker will be delighted to hear them.

Date the paper, and put the name of the speech and the speaker on it.  That’s the problem with the evaluation I received.  I have no clue who or what speech was.

3. Be timely in getting the evaluation to the speaker.

I’ve found that I can’t trust Zoom to get me my Toastmasters speech evaluations, even when the evaluator has uploaded them properly.  As evaluator, I’m going to make sure that the speaker has gotten the evaluation form, and maybe even email them a copy, just to be sure.

When we go back to meeting in hybrid situations, evaluations will become more complicated.  Paper or PDF?  How are we going to track these?

We do have an option to upload images or PDF files to our Toastmasters Pathway profile.  I think that might be useful – but what if I get paper?  Or, worse, if an evaluation gets lost, what do I do?

I’m defaulting to the old, traditional way.

I’m making lists of the projects I want to do in a path.  Then I have that old-fashioned checkmark system.  Finished the project?  Check.  Got the evaluation?  Check.

I like the printed version.  I can attach it to my checklist and have everything together.  I do know that some people have created a folder on their computer with the PDFs saved – name of project, date given or some other way to identify what the evaluation was for.  If I were to do that, I’d probably create a different folder for every path.  We repeat speech projects in Pathways and I want to be sure that I’ve done all the speeches in the path, not count one speech for multiple paths.

Because speeches aren’t required to be done in order, we do need a way to be sure that we’ve gotten the work done.  Yes, the path does track that we’ve completed the training and in theory, we’ve given the speech before we complete the final evaluation questionnaire.  Theory, not fact, sometimes.

However you decide to track your completed projects progress, do make sure that your VPE is giving you the proper credit on the Base Camp site.  That has to be done in the proper order, so that Toastmasters will recognize the completion of your path.

And who doesn’t want that?

Wrap it up, Kim

Thanks to District 10 for supporting Toastmasters 101.  We’re having our annual conference in April.  When’s your conference?  Have you signed up to attend or to be a volunteer to make it happen?

Our music is from Incompetech.filmmusic.io.

We’ll talk again on the next episode of Toastmasters 101.