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.

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