Impromptu Evaluation Speaking
Since we communicate in the moment, often with no opportunity to plan our speech, you see why it’s critical to build those impromptu speaking skills. It’s not just about meeting that rock star, or getting a chance to pitch the perfect idea in an elevator to the investor or your dreams. It’s about finding your voice, whatever the situation, and being able to use it.
Are we talking Table Topics here?
Yes, obviously. But we’re also talking about speech evaluations. When you think about it, a speech evaluation is pretty much an impromptu speech that requires some logical and rational thought on the fly.
Evaluations in Real Life
The ability to evaluate someone verbally is a precious skill. Don’t think so? I was talking with another Toastmaster at an officer training about what he learned from Toastmasters. He asked me if I’d ever been in a room with a crying man who was suffering through a poor review at work. The art of evaluation helped him manage the poor review and help his employee improve the situation.
To me, that drove home the value of evaluation skills. When you’re a parent, you have to guide your children. When you’re a good friend, sometimes you have to help someone face an unpleasant reality. Knowing how to give feedback in a positive method can change your life, as well as those around you.
That’s why we not only teach evaluation skills, but we evaluate your evaluations. Level 1 Project 2 includes you giving an evaluation to another speaker, and getting an evaluation of your evaluation.
Pretty meta, right?
How to Evaluate Others
In a previous episode, we talked about the evaluation forms – how to get them, the speaker’s responsibility to give them to the evaluator. When you’re the evaluator, ask the speaker for specifics. What do they want to improve? What do they think is their biggest flaw that they want to improve? When you know their goals, you can give a better evaluation.
The evaluation form isn’t the best format for a verbal evaluation. “I gave you a four on eye contact” doesn’t really tell anyone much, does it? The usual method is to share what you felt were the strongest points of the speech, give a couple of points of growth, and then finish with a positive note.
This is called the sandwich method. There are many others.
- See Hear Feel.
We’ve got a lot of ways to evaluate. What’s most important is that you share points of growth. Generally, people give 3 points of growth. More than that is overwhelming. Aim for 3.
It’s okay to feel like you’re being nitpicky. That’s actually nice to hear sometimes. It means you’ve been paying attention.
Try not to focus on the content unless you have comments about the organization of the speech – especially if you disagree with the content. Your job isn’t to critique what has been said, only how it is said. You should also avoid telling your own story in response to the speech. Your reaction to the speech – yes. How it made you feel – yes.
Don’t attack the speaker. Talk about the speech.
Don’t flatter needlessly. Talk about the speech.
Don’t take too long – but… talk about the speech!
Toastmasters Evaluation Contests
Evaluations are important in the Toastmasters education program that we even have district-wide contests. A test speaker gives a speech and the competitors give evaluations of the same speech. Judges will select the best evaluator at the club, area, division, and up to the district level.
So get your evaluations evaluated and work on the skill. Not just to win the contest, but to win at life.