Saturday, August 31, 2013

6 ways of starting your speech evaluation

“What a wonderful speech it was?” If this is how you start your speech evaluations always, it is time for you to learn some new techniques. In this article, I’ll share with you some techniques that you can use to make
the introduction of your speech evaluation, memorable and attention grabbing. 

1.      Quote – Quotes are an interesting way to open your evaluation speech. It helps you to position yourself as someone who is knowledgeable on the subject. Moreover, quotes are attention grabbing too. For example, you can start your evaluation with the following introductory lines:

It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years” said Abraham Lincoln. Fellow Toastmasters and guests, after listening to John’s speech about his social service activities, I truly felt that he has lead a purposeful life and added “life to the years”… instead of just adding “years to the life”.

2.      Acronym – Starting your evaluation speeches with an acronym increases the curiosity in audience’s mind and will help them to get glued to your speech. For example, a fellow toastmaster once gave a speech about “diet” and organized my evaluation speech using the acronym “DIET”.

“John… You sold the idea of DIET to all of us … with your speech about DIET”
Then, I went ahead and structured my evaluation speech using D – Delivery, I – Information, E – Entertainment, T – Transitions. Do not use this technique for evaluating somebody whose speech is about “Flaucinaucinihilipilification”).

3.      Theme / Analogy – You can make your evaluation speech memorable, if you use a theme to structure the evaluation. For example, you can compare the speech against something or someone and try to highlight the similarities during your evaluation. For example, a toastmaster once did a speech about the tour that he did in Australia. I started my evaluation with the following introductory line

Dear Jack… Your speech was like watching a Maniratnam Movie”… then I went ahead and said “You were able to vividly describe the places that you visited in Australia. Normally director Maniratnam takes us to scenic locations like that in his movies. You were able to create a similar effect in front of our eyes with your outstanding narration. For example, when you were describing your visit to the waterfalls… I was able to visualize water pouring in front of my eyes… I was able to hear the birds chirping, I was able to see those colorful butterflies flying all over …

4.      Humor – Using Humor is a powerful technique to start any speech – not just the evaluations speech. For example, if a toastmaster delivers a speech about his wife’s spending habits, you can start your evaluation with the following introductory line

I’ve read somewhere… If you want to be a millionaire… start with a billion, and take your wife out for shopping. Toastmaster Jack… this statement is very apt for you

5.      Reference to the speech – Creating the introductory lines of an evaluation by referring back to the speech is an art. It helps you to position yourself as an expert and an out of the box thinker. For example, if a toastmaster delivers a speech about “Going Green”, you can start your evaluation with the following lines:

Toastmaster Jim… Your speech not only taught us how to Reduce … Reuse… & Recycle… to go green… but also to Reduce … Reuse… & Recycle… in delivering effective speeches.” and then you can go ahead and say “Jim… You have reduced unwanted stage movement… which helped you in having an effective eye contact with the audience. You had reused vocal variety several times in the speech to deliver your statements with an impact… you have recycled our enthusiasm, by sprinkling humor throughout the speech

6.      Asking Questions – Starting your evaluation speech with a question is an easy way of connecting with your audience. For example, if a toastmaster delivers an inspiring speech about “Chasing your dream”, you can start your evaluation with the following lines:

Fellow Toastmasters & Guests… Raise your hand if you felt that TM Jerry’s speech inspired you to chase your dreams. I don’t know about you, but I was completely inspired by his speech”.

In speech contests, I have seen contestants coming up with innovative methods to stand out in the crowd when delivering speech evaluations. Some of the techniques that I've seen people using for their introductory lines are:

a.       “Let us all give a standing ovation to TM Jacob for his inspiring speech”
b.      “TM Jacob … I used a speech judging ballot to score your speech. You know what … you got 90/100 on my score card. I see a World Champion of Public Speaking in you”
c.       “I fell flat like this… , when I listened to TM Jacob’s speech about bouncing ball”
d.      … “I don’t think I would need any notes to evaluate TM Jacob’s speech… because, every word of his speech is memorable to me. That was the power of Jacob’s speech.”

If you master the above techniques, you don’t have to start your evaluation with “It was a pleasure listening to your speech today” or "What a wonderful speech it was". Like a soup that tastes better with salt and spice, add some spice to your speech evaluation introductions.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

5 Steps to Deliver Effective Speech Evaluations

Delivering an effective speech evaluation is an art. With the contest season coming around, I thought it would
be a worthwhile exercise to convert the art into science by sharing techniques on how to do effective speech
evaluations in Toastmasters. This article describes the 5 steps involved in delivering an effective speech evaluation.

1. Observe – This is the first step. When you play the role of an evaluator, carefully observe and listen to the speaker and note down his/her strengths and areas for improvements. Observe not only the performance of the speaker on the stage, but also things like “how the audience is receiving it”, “what are the feelings and expressions that the speech is creating in you” etc.,

2. Record – It is very hard for us to keep everything that we observe in our memory. So, writing our observations in a small sheet of paper or a notebook would definitely help in the retention and recollection. There are different ways of taking notes. Actually, you don’t have to write each and every word that the speaker utters. You can note down only the important phrases or gestures from the speakers speech – which you think you may refer to/use during the evaluation. You can even organize your observations at the time of writing the notes. I’ve seen people using some of their time tested templates to capture their notes. Some people fold a sheet of paper into two halves to note down the strengths on one side and areas of improvement on the other side. I’ve seen some people organizing the notes in the form of a mind map. The goal is to make your notes easy to lookup.

3. Analyze – After the speaker is done with his/her speech, analyze carefully and identify the items that you would like to highlight during your evaluation. There is a famous quote “Learn as if you are going to live forever, live as if you are going to die tomorrow”. Similarly, take notes as if you are going to deliver a 1 hour speech evaluation. However, when it comes to selecting the observations that you would like to highlight during the evaluation, select them as if you have just 1 minute to deliver. You can just circle those items in your sheet which you would like to comment during your evaluation. I use the rule of 3:1. For every 3 nice things or strengths that I point out, I include 1 area of improvement for the speaker. It will help you in keeping the evaluations CRISP and will also help you in finishing your evaluation within the allotted 3 minutes.

4. Arrange –Do you want to minimize the time that you spend in referring to your notes? Do you want to avoid unwanted pauses during your evaluation? Then, arrange your notes before you go on to the stage. What do I mean by arranging your notes? I normally have the practice of creating a fresh set of notes based on my scribbled notes. I’ll use this information to deliver my speech evaluation. Arranging your contents is very important – because it will help you to quickly refer to the notes. When you don’t arrange the content properly, you’ll have to unnecessarily glance at your notes for a longer time … when you are on the stage. It increases your pauses and also, disconnects you from audience for a longer time.

5. Deliver – This is the last step and the most exciting part of your evaluation. When you go to the stage to deliver the evaluation, always maintain a positive posture and use positive words. You should look positive by having a smile on your face and using friendly gestures and sound positive by using constructive words.

You can download some templates for speech evaluations at the following location:

CRISP Evaluation Handout
Table Topics Evaluation Handout

If you haven’t read my article about CRISP evaluations, you can find it here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

CC Speech #2: Organize your Speech - Uncle with the Black Cap

S P L A S H… there was water all over my face… I couldn’t believe what I saw …

I was at the Swimming Pool in Brown Stone Apartments, near Loyola College. I saw my daughter Mitra jumping into the pool and swimming like a champion. The entire crowd in the swimming pool started to cheer her “Mitra… Mitra… Mitra…” That was her first day to the swimming class and Mitra was swimming without any tube… without any support… and without any fear.

I really couldn’t believe what I saw …

Again…. there was a S P L A S H … water all over my face… this time, it wasn’t from the pool… but from a glass which was emptied on my face by my wife.

“Saro… get up from the bed. It is time to take Mitra to the swimming class…” My wife woke me up at 5.30 am in the morning, forcing me to get ready for the class at 6 am.

Also read: CC2 - Go Veg (Organize your Speech)

Fellow toastmasters, and guests…

That was Mitra’s first day of the swimming class. With lots of dreams and hopes, I took my daughter to the swimming pool.  Since it was summer, there were a number of kids at the pool to learn swimming. All the kids were having fun at the pool. However, little Mitra was afraid of even getting into the water with a rubber tube. She cried … She protested and she made a big fuzz. Finally she agreed to get into the water... with a promise “Dad!  You should sit near the pool and keep an eye on me … all the time”.  I pulled a chair and sat near the pool, keeping my eyes glued to Mitra.

The swimming coach uncle … that’s how my daughter calls him… a man in his mid 20s wearing a black swimming cap, dragged her into the pool. A very energetic and aggressive guy! The reason why I’m calling him as aggressive is - Whatever I was dreaming, he was expecting, or rather forcing kids to do on the first day.

My daughter’s coach – the uncle with the black cap is special. He coined a nick name for every kid. There was a fat kid and his name was “Urundai”. There was a lean kid and her name was “Oama Kuchi”. My daughter’s nick name was “Bayandangolli”. He was constantly scolding kids for not performing; he splashes water on their face when they were struggling for breath; he throws kids into the water when they are afraid to even get into the water. When days went on, my daughter even got terrified on seeing the Uncle with the Black Cap.

From great expectations of swimming like a champion I wanted my daughter to at least float in the water without a tube. Days went on… but her confidence level was very low. 2nd day…she didn’t take off the tube… 3rd day… she didn’t take of the tube… 4th day… she didn’t take off the tube… it went on for 10 consecutive days. On the 11th day, there was a change… my daughter got a new rubber tube.

Not just that, she also was assigned to a new swimming coach. A man in his early 30s, wearing a white swimming cap. He was very friendly with the kids… he was cheering them even for a small accomplishment of theirs. He cheered when a kid got into the water for the first time, he cheered when a kid swam without a tube for the first time… he cheered when a kid swims from one end to the other and reaches the finish line. What he did was similar to what we do in a Toastmasters Club – provided a very supportive, friendly and encouraging platform for members to fail safely and learn. In just 2 days of getting coached by Uncle with the white cap, my daughter learned to swim without the tube. Tears were on my eyes when I saw her going from one end of the pool to the other without any support. I stood from my chair and gave a thunderous applause to her when she reached her finishing line for the first time.

Fellow Toastmasters, all of us play Mr. Uncle with the White Cap when we are in Ruby Hall. But, what cap do we wear in the real world. What cap do we wear when we deal with our friends or class mates? What cap do we wear when there is a non-performing member in our team, at work? What cap do we wear when our spouse makes a mistake? When you want to get the best performance from someone, don’t slap… but clap… like the uncle with the white cap.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chennai Speakers Forum - Time Management Interview

1. How do you get people to fall for you at your very first interaction?

I treat people, as if I’m meeting a good old friend after a long gap. I genuinely listen to them and try to help them in whatever little way possible. I make them feel special by appreciating their achievements. For example, if someone says “My wife doesn’t allow me to go out on Sundays. However, I managed to come out to attend this meeting today”… I’ll say “Wow! I’m completely impressed by your passion towards improving your speaking skills”.

Even if I see a district governor or a division governor standing near to me when I’m talking to a new person, I don’t divert my attention towards the “biggie”. I continue to talk to the new person or will introduce the new person to the “biggie”. I’ll make sure that the new person gets my fullest attention and service, when I’m talking to them.

I have served as SAA two times in my club. One of the roles of a SAA is to meet & greet members and guests. I think I had picked up this skill by playing the role of the SAA religiously J

2. What according to you is time management?? What is your secret?           

 “Time management” is not just about using your available time effectively. It is also about learning to say NO to certain things, prioritizing the critical vs. not so critical tasks, spending time on tasks that are inline with your long term goals/aspirations, setting right expectations, keeping others informed when you anticipate slippages etc.,.

I read the book “7 habits of highly effective people” early on in my life. There are few books that are life-changing and “7 habits of highly effective people” is one such book. It taught me how to manage time effectively.

3. You are known for your mentoring skills, tell us how you manage to find time for your mentees in your packed schedule?

I allocate at least 2 hours for toastmasters everyday and most of my time is spent in mentoring members and clubs. Mentoring includes helping mentees to come up with speech topics, speech script reviews, in-person rehearsals, helping mentees to understand “how to handle certain situations in their club or office” etc., I have nearly 60+ mentees and I review approximately 2 speech scripts a day.

Consciously, I’ve stayed away from district leadership roles because it would prevent me from spending quality time with my mentees. I also don’t waste my time in “non-core toastmasters activities”. For ex., if toastmasters plan for a weekend picnic or go out for a movie outing, I don’t join them there J

Looking back, toastmasters has become more of a habit to me like walking, bathing, and eating J

4. What made you a time lover? What inspired you? What is your routine for the day? Is there a day that you did so much work because of time management that you felt like superhuman?

10 years ago, I read this quote somewhere "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'WOW What a Ride!'". Earlier, I used to party, chit-chat and unnecessarily waste time. This quote made me to realize that I should effectively use time to achieve my dreams. I’m a strong believer of “Small, but continuous improvements done over a long period of time will produce HUGE results”.

I get up at 5.30 am and go to bed at 9.30 pm or so. Before going to work in the morning, I do some exercising, check my personal emails, read news papers, FB comments and review speech scripts. I leave home by 8 am sharp. I leave from office in the evening by 4.45 pm. I try not to get distracted by Toastmasters activities during my work time – I just respond back to short emails or quick phone calls. If I know that a particular call is going to take 30 mins or so, either I don’t pick that call or I tell them that I’ll call them in the evening J

I spend 1 + 1 hour on my commute everyday and I use my commute time for Toastmasters calls. I reach home by 5.45 pm or so. I spend some quick time with family (hardly 30 mins!) and start taking care of office emails & personal/toastmasters emails. When I find time in the evening, I write blogs ( or read books.

I’m yet to become a super human J May be, I was pretty close during the days that lead to our district conference - Ovation 2013.

5. If someone wants to manage time in the best possible way, but is not sure how to do it. What advice would you give that person with dreams to manage time?          

Read “7 habits of highly effective people” – Steven Covey. He does a brilliant job of explaining how effectively you can manage time and prioritize your tasks. Steven Covey also tells you ways of achieving your dreams/goals in a systematic way.

6. Time and tide wait for no man; have u ever missed a tide???

So far, NO! But, I have a big dream to achieve in my life. You should ask me this question 10 years from now J

7. What is the reason behind you to continue being a Toastmaster?  

Before I joined toastmasters, I used to think in Tamil, translate that into English and express my thoughts. Even, if I have to order something in English in a restaurant… I used to rehearse it once in my mind before asking the bearer. Today, I’m able to think in English right at the first time. The credit goes to Toastmasters. People who watch me speaking today, wouldn’t believe that I had the problem of speaking in English once upon a time.

Toastmasters has given me so much in the last 7 years. I feel that being part of Toastmasters and helping youngsters learn communication/leadership skills is a way of serving the community. Even today, I continue to learn new things, by serving our members and clubs. These are the things that keep me active in Toastmasters.

Toastmaster of the Day Script - Chennai Toastmasters Club - 28th July 2013

Toastmaster of the Day Worksheet

DATE: 28th July 2013                   Word of the Day: gregarious
Theme: Discover the leader in you
1.      Introduce theme of the day and word of the day. Encourage the speakers to use them during the meeting. Ask the audience to applaud when the Theme of the day and word of the day is used by the speakers.

An Egg is a symbol of transformation

A hen lays several eggs. But only a few hatch and transform into chicken. Similarly, a number of members join toastmasters. However, only a few are determined and passionate to get transformed into great leaders and communicators. Our mentors help mentees to discover the real leader in them. Discover the leader in you, is the Theme of the Day.
If you carefully observe the newly born chicks, they go around in groups. They love to be with other chicken. That is because, they are all GREGARIOUS – that is the word of the day.
2.      Explain the flow of meeting and the 3 segments (Prepared speeches, Table Topics and Evaluation) for guests.

Every toastmasters meeting has 3 segments.

The first segment is called prepared speeches segment. In Toastmasters, speakers are given time to come prepared with a speech and deliver it in the club as part of the Prepared Speeches segment. The prepared speeches section in Toastmasters meetings is the incubation house for members to practice their presentation skills.

The second segment is called Table Topics segment. In this segment, we help fellow toastmasters to handle impromptu speaking situations .. which normally comes with extreme Temperature & Tension. Like an egg that becomes stronger when put in a boiling water, our fellow TMs become stronger by participating in Table Topics Session.

When an egg is broken from outside force life ends, when an egg is broken from force inside life begins. Evaluation is that segment in Toastmasters that helps members to break that shell from within, to bring a new life into this world.
In order to walk us through the evaluations segment, we have a team headed by our General Egg Braker... I mean General Evaluator..
3.      Introduce the General Evaluator (based on the meeting theme) and ask the General Evaluator to introduce his/her team:

1) Works as Software Development Engineer at Amazon Inc.
2) His hobbies include Toastmasters, Table Tennis, and Office Work
3) The leader that he admires is Jeff Pesos, the CEO of Amazon for his leadership

Please join me in welcoming the General Evaluator for today Prasanna Venkat

4.      Regain control from General Evaluator. 
5.      Inform the audience that you are starting the prepared speeches segment.
6.      Prepared Speeches
Speaker #1
Suresh Natarajan
Project Details
Manual:  Competent Communicator
Project #: 1
Project Title: Ice Breaker
Speech Title: Yes, “I can Do”
Introduction of the speaker (based on the meeting theme)
1)      Works as Program Manager at Coromandel Infotech

2)      Reading books - Product management, Playing Cricket & Tennis

3)      He admires Mahatma Gandhi for his Simplicity and Determination

Before I call Suresh Natarajan to the stage, may I request the evaluator of the speech TM Bharath Raja to read the project objectives?
Speaker #2
Sabareeswar Balakrishnan
Project Details
Manual: Competent Communicator
Project #: 3
Project Title: Get to the Point
Speech Title: Euphemisms
Introduction of the speaker (based on the meeting theme)
1)      Calls himself a NERD … Works as Tech Lead at HCL Technologies

2)      Listening to music, when tired of browsing Internet

3)      Greg Ferro (co-host of demonstrating his leadership by giving a new dimension to technical podcasting.

Before I call Sabareeswar Balakrishnan to the stage, may I request the evaluator of the speech TM Harish Kataria to read the project objectives?
Speaker #3
Project Details
Manual: Competent Communicator
Project #: 9
Project Title: Persuade with Power
Speech Title: Dil Jumping Japang Jampak Jampak
Introduction of the speaker (based on the meeting theme)
1)      Works as Sales Manager? at e-Con Systems Pvt Ltd

2)      Hobbies include Drawing, Painting and making creative home decors

3)      Leader that she admires is Abdul Kalam for his Simplicity, Sincerity, and Dedication

Before I call Yamini to the stage, may I request the evaluator of the speech TM Ramesh Daswani to read the project objectives?

Speaker #4
Harini Srinivasan
Project Details
Manual: High Performance Leadership
Project #:
Project Title:
Speech Title:
Introduction of the speaker (based on the meeting theme)
1)  Take a Wild Guess

2) Making earrings, reading books and falling down

3) Every single person who has concern for a fellow living being. The one who respects queues, the one who stops the car for a tiny puppy to cross the road or the one who rushes to help someone in an accident or adversity

Before I call Harini Srinivasan to the stage, may I request the evaluator of the speech TM Deepa Bharatkumar to read the project objectives?
7.      Ask the timer if any of the speakers are disqualified due to time. Ask the audience to vote for the Best Prepared Speaker.

8.      Introduce the Table Topics Master (based on the theme of the meeting):

1) Works as a Manager at HSBC
2) Hobbies include Reading, Watching movies Favorite movie – Mask (Jim Cary)
3) Leader that he admires is Mahatma Gandhi – for non-violence and the way in which he was able to motivate the whole world for a common cause

Please join me in welcoming the Table Topics Master for today Rajesh Upadhay

9.      Signal the Table Topics Master to end the session when the time limit is reached / exceeded.
10.  Regain control from Table Topics Master.
11.  Ask the timer if any of the speakers are disqualified due to time.  Announce eligibility. Ask the audience to vote for the Best Table Topics Speaker
12.  Invite the General Evaluator to conduct the evaluations segment
13.  Regain control from General Evaluator.
14.  Final remarks (try to end with a BANG). Not exceeding 1 minute.
We joined Toastmasters to transform
By taking a variety of roles and perform.
Though heavy lunch acts like chloroform
We fight it hard like men in uniform
With every performance we reform,
Because we always go above the norm !

15.  Return control to President ___________________________