Thursday, August 16, 2012

CRISP Speech Evaluations

This is a summary of the CRISP Speech Evaluations workshop that I did for Chennai Speakers Forum on 5th August 2012. This is also published as an article in Chennai Toastmasters newsletter.

“Any speech can be improved”… This is the mantra that drives toastmasters. We invest our time in improving ourselves week after week… climbing one step at a time, on the ladder of communication and leadership. Speech evaluations help us to understand how we can improve our speeches. If Toastmasters journey is like driving a car, a mentor is the GPS who guides you along and evaluations is the dashboard in the car which gives you instant feedback. Evaluations is the catalyst that helps you to transform from just an ordinary speaker to an extraordinary speaker.

Also read:
Speech Evaluations - Right & Improper Usages
Table Topics Evaluation Tips

Types of Evaluations – Good, Bad & Ugly

What are the different types of evaluations? There are 3 types of evaluations

• Good
• Bad
• Ugly

Good Evaluations – TONIC

Good evaluations are like tonic. They motivate a speaker to improve his/her performance. An example of Good evaluations is

“TM Jim… Your speech was well organized. It had an attention grabbing introduction, nice transitions and a memorable conclusion.  One area where you can improve is the eye contact. You were focusing mostly on the audience sitting in the front row. I recommend you to establish eye contact with the folks at the back and at the centre. Your stage presence was good and kept us glued to you throughout your speech”

Bad Evaluations – Water

Bad evaluations don’t create any change in the speaker. It is like water – goes in and comes out. Bad evaluations do not help the speaker in improving his/her performance. Some examples are:

“TM Joe…  What a fantastic speech it was. It reminded me of one of my vacations to Kochin. We visited the port, beach and all the churches. We went to the GRT Hotel for lunch. I guess you didn’t go there during your vacation”


“TM Joe… Your speech was excellent. You had an amazing introduction, excellent vocal variety and an outstanding conclusion. I couldn’t find any areas of improvement for you”.

Ugly Evaluations – Poison

Ugly Evaluations are like giving POISON to the speaker. They kill the speaker and demotivate them. A member, who receives an ugly evaluation, may not even return to your club.

“TM Joe... I don’t know how you can deliver a speech without any preparation. First of all, you didn’t rehearse your speech and you were always looking at the notes.  
Second of all, you had a poor eye contact with the audience  

Third of all, nobody understood the message you were trying to communicate”

CRISP Evaluations

How can you make your speech evaluations a TONIC that motivates and strengthens the speaker? How can you help your club members to continuously excel in their communication journey? I’m going to introduce to you a technique called CRISP evaluations.


Constructive feedback is like giving tonic to the speaker.  It is an art of telling the speaker that the “Glass is HALF FULL instead of HALF EMPTY”. Let us look at some examples:

Instead of saying  “Now let me highlight your weaknesses”, you can try the following:

  I’m going to give you some areas for improvement
  I have a few suggestions for you
  I have some recommendations to make your great speech, a greater speech

Instead of saying, “You didn’t use the stage properly”, you can say "I wish you had used the stage space better"

Instead of saying, “Your speech wasn’t up to the mark”, you can say "I think you can do some improvements to the speech to meet the project objectives"

When you are an evaluator, you have to sound positive and look positive. How do you do that?

  • Use the right tone/gestures - Instead of saying “I wish you had used the stage space better” … say “I wish you had used the stage space better”…
  • Give feedback with confidence - “I wish… you know… AHMM…. you had used the stage space…. Better…” makes you appear that you don’t have enough confidence/experience.
  • Smile … when giving feedback... Be friendly… 


Make your speech evaluations relevant to the speech and the project objectives. In simple words, “Focus on the delivery and not on the content. Focus on the speech and not on the speaker”

  • Don’t try to comment about the speech content. For example, "In your speech you said India is a developed nation…. I don’t think India is still a developed nation”. 
  • Don’t try to target the speaker. For example, "IT engineers have this problem of using so many jargon"
  • You should always stick to the project objectives.
  • For an ice breaker speech, don’t expect vocal variety or stage presence. Alternatively, you can evaluate a speaker based on previous project objectives. For ex., if the speaker has completed “Project 6: Vocal Variety”, and if you are evaluating “Project 7”, you can tell the speaker that he can improve on his vocal variety


There is a famous quote “Live as if you are going to die tomorrow… learn as if you are going to live forever”. Similarly when you are playing the role of an evaluator, “Take notes as if you are preparing for a 1 hour evaluation. Deliver as if you have just 1 minute to give feedback”

You may have a page full of notes. But, pick the top 3 items from the page. For every 3 nice things that you have to say about the speaker, you can suggest 1 area for improvement.  If you have more feedback to give, give them after the meeting and in person.

Remember, the objective of speech evaluation is NOT to project you as a STAR evaluator. The object is to help somebody improve their communication skills.

(Also read: Methods to organize your speech Evaluations)


Specific feedback helps speakers to understand “What can they do differently to make a better impact with their speech”. You can use the “Show and Tell” approach to give specific feedback.

For example, instead of just saying “TM Joe…. You should improve your vocal variety”, you can say “TM Joe… you said, I saw a huge elephant and a tiny little rat… Instead, you could’ve said “I saw  a HUGE ELEPHANT and a TINY LITTLE rat”

Instead of saying “Joe… You need to improve your eye contact” you can say

“Joe… You’ll have a better audience connection if you maintain good eye contact. Here is what I recommend…Divide the audience into 4 groups. Establish eye contact with one person in the group. You’ll give a feeling to everyone in that group that you are looking at them. Then shift your eye contact to another person in a different group. Follow this repeatedly to have a better connection with the audience”


Speech evaluations have to be personalized for the speaker and by the speech evaluator.

John Maxwell, a famous author once said … “People do not care how much you know, but they would like to know how much you care”. As an evaluator you should display genuine care and interest towards the betterment of the speaker. Every individual is unique – Joe is different from Jack, who is different from Jim.  For ex., for someone who has studied in their native language throughout their school days it would be difficult to use the right grammar in their speech.  They may already know that they have to improve on English grammar. As an evaluator, you don’t have to point that out during your feedback.

As an evaluator, you are not a representative of the audience. So, your evaluations have to just reflect your personal opinion.  For example, refrain from making remarks such as

“All of us thought, that you didn’t rehearse your speech”. Instead, just say, “I recommend you to practice your speeches in front of the mirror and rehearse a few times more. It will give you more confidence when you make the speech in the club”

With Constructive, Relevant, Important, Specific and Personalized (CRISP) evaluations, you can help transform an ore into an ornament; you can help transform an ordinary speaker to an extraordinary speaker; you can help your club member to climb the ramp to become a champ.  Will you practice to be CRISP?!

(Also read: Speech Evaluations - Right & Improper Usages)


  1. Saro, thanks for putting all your Toastmaster journey on this blog. Here there are lot of wonderful advices for new Toastmaster like me. This approach of your's for evaluation is simply superb.

  2. Really nice one, just read it for evaluation contest

  3. Glad to know that you liked the blog, Mike.

  4. I have found your perspective on evaluation very helpful. Thank you.

  5. Thanks. Glad to know that you liked my blog.

  6. Your inputs have helped me a lot in preparing me to play my role better. Thank you so much.

  7. Thanks a lot. It really helped me.

  8. Thanks much. Glad to know that, the article helped you.