Feedback—is the Breakfast of Champions — Ted Dibble
Public speaking and leadership are skills, and like any skill they can be developed and improved, through practice and feedback. In Toastmasters, feedback is called evaluation, and it is an essential part of the Toastmasters educational program. If you truly want to improve your speaking and leadership skills, you must learn how to give and receive beneficial evaluations.
People join Toastmasters clubs to improve their speaking and leadership skills; they accomplish their goals through a program of self-guided and initiated study and practice. They are aided in this effort by their Toastmasters peers, who serve as Evaluators. Members prepare and present speeches based on projects in the Competent Communication Manual, or they serve in leadership roles while completing projects in the Competent Leadership Manual. Their fellow club members evaluate the speeches or leadership efforts, assisting the members to further develop their speaking or leadership skills.
How you go about evaluating your speaker has a great impact, on the speaker as well as on the club. A harsh evaluation may even cause a member to leave the club. An unperceptive, uncritical evaluation may not help the member to improve, making the member dissatisfied. Good evaluators strive instead to provide effective evaluations, giving evaluations that are helpful and encouraging.
Although this guide is oriented to evaluating others in the club, the skills you learn can be applied in all aspects of your life. You will become a more attentive and receptive listener, a more creative and critical thinker, and a more effective and beneficial ally. By studying this article carefully and applying its concepts and techniques to your evaluations, you will quickly be able to give helpful, positive, constructive evaluations that will motivate the receiver, facilitate the speaker's learning, and aid the speaker in addressing their challenges. You will also learn about different evaluation methods and about resources available to help you and your fellow club members. And you will find out how your club can evaluate itself to ensure the club is meeting member needs.
How to use this articleEdit
If you are new to evaluation, you will find yourself coming back to this article repeatedly over time as you continue to integrate its information into your activities as Toastmaster. As you do, please contribute your own experiences and perspectives, refining the material here to reflect what you have learned.
If you are coming here after some experience as Evaluator, you will try to integrate this information in with what you already possess. You will find new information, and you will perhaps notice that the emphasis here is different from what you have learned elsewhere. Please contribute your own perspectives and experiences to this article, improving its content. Try out the concepts and suggestions you find here, and return to contribute your own hard-won knowledge.
The Evaluator's RoleEdit
Are you a sage on the stage—or a guide on the side? — Chuck Dietrich
The evaluator works in three different, but integrated, roles.
- As motivator—by recognizing the speaker’s achievements and improvements, and by reinforcing the speaker’s commitment to learn and improve.
- As facilitator—by suggesting specific changes the member may make to improve their speaking or leading.
- As counselor—by assisting the member in facing their fears concerning speaking before a group or undertaking responsibility.
When you are assigned to evaluate a speaker or leader, your purpose is to provide honest reaction in a constructive manner to the person's efforts, using the evaluation guides provided. You are not a judge or an authority on speaking or leadership. When you evaluate, you are simply giving your own reaction to the person's speaking or leadership efforts. An evaluation is an opinion, nothing more. This opinion should mention the effect on you, what the speaker or leader did well, areas where the speaker or leader could improve, and specific recommendations for improvement.
Keep in mind that you cannot change the person's behavior or force the person to accept your ideas and suggested improvements. Nor can you demand that a speaker or leader repeat a project if you believe the person did not accomplish project objectives or otherwise did not perform well. But through your evaluation, you can provide information that the speaker or leader may consider for future projects. His decision to accept your suggestions is the speaker or leader's alone.
Even when you are not the assigned evaluator, you are encouraged to give feedback. The more feedback a speaker or leader receives, the more the person benefits. This evaluation need not be as detailed as that of the assigned evaluator, but it should mention something the speaker or leader did well, something that could be improved, and a specific recommendation for improvement. Most clubs provide members with short evaluation forms to fill out and give to the speaker or leader at each meeting, or you can write your evaluation on a piece of paper.
If you are a new Toastmaster, you most likely will not be assigned as Evaluator until you have received your orientation, consulted with your club's Vice President Education about the evaluation process, attended at least three or four club meetings where others gave evaluations, and completed three speaking or leadership projects of your own. These activities will give you information and experience that you can draw on as you prepare your first evaluation.
Benefits of EvaluationEdit
In Toastmasters, we evaluate each other in order to gain a benefit. The process of evaluation can benefit the Speaker, the Evaluator, and the club itself. If evaluation is effective and beneficial, it holds benefits for Speakers, their Evaluators, and for the club itself.
for the SpeakerEdit
- provides the feedback needed for learning
- confers specific suggestions for improvement
- recognizes the Speaker’s efforts and accomplishments
- motivates the Speaker to further efforts
- enhances the Speaker’s self-esteem
for the EvaluatorEdit
- provides a vehicle for the Evaluator to help others
- develops a positive, sympathetic attitude in the Evaluator
- cultivates positive relationships between club members
- deepens the Evaluator’s listening skills
- exercises the Evaluator in impromptu speaking
for the ClubEdit
- cultivates in the Club a high degree of excellence in speaking, leading, and serving
- skilled speakers and evaluators then serve as role models for club members
- creates a positive climate in the Club
- club members can take pride in their growth and be inspired to do even better
With a high degree of satisfaction in the club, members will tend to continue their participation and deepen their commitment.
Evaluation and MotivationEdit
Learning from EvaluationEdit
In the Toastmasters self-directed learning model, we progress by integrating new knowledge, by practicing (and mastering) new skills, and by changing our habits. Evaluation, whether coming from another member or from our own self-evaluation, is a form of feedback. And feedback is essential to our developing in the proper direction. We ourselves must bear the responsibility of integrating the information we receive, turning every Toastmasters experience into a positive learning experience, and deciding to enact change in ourselves.
As a receiver of evaluation, you are responsible for obtaining the maximum benefit from the experience. See your evaluator as a partner in your learning process:
- Communicate your goals to your Vice President Education and to your speech or leadership Evaluator. They need to understand your motivation in your learning process.
- Prepare your evaluator by conferring in advance. Review your manual project's objectives and your speech's purpose with your evaluator, who should be studying your speech manual's project on her own. Integrate the goals of your speech project with your Toastmaster goals.
- Prepare your project with due diligence so that your evaluator can focus on your larger goals instead of being distracted with problems caused by lack of preparation.
- Listen to your evaluator with empathy, just as your evaluator empathizes with you. Remember that she is committed to doing her best to be of benefit to you and she will be receptive to your feedback on her evaluation.
- Be your evaluator's evaluator by giving appropriate, helpful feedback. Think about how you may work more effectively with her in future, and communicate this to her.
- Commit yourself to changing by integrating your own self-evaluation with the feedback you receive from your evaluator and from your listeners. Then decide what you will do in your next speech project or leadership project to meet your goals of self-improvement.
As a giver of an evaluation, you are responsible for participating in a process that benefits the speaker or leader, thus benefiting the entire club. See yourself as a partner in this process:
- Give due consideration to the speaker's goals. Your evaluation is in the context of the speaker's own goals in their Toastmasters program. You cannot simply take a shot in the dark.
- Prepare your speaker by participating in the pre-speech review of the speech project in their manual and by integrating the manual's objectives with the speaker's stated goals.
- Exercise diligence by carefully familiarizing yourself with the manual project in sufficient depth that you would understand how you yourself would go about completing this project.
- Listen to the speaker with attention and empathy, understanding that your grasp of what the speaker is doing is one of the most beneficial things you can do for him, and that the shortcomings of the speaker most compelling to you are probably issues you yourself need to deal with.
- Be receptive to feedback. Evaluate your own evaluation, and listen to what the speaker has to say in return. Listen also to other club members.
- Commit yourself to changing by integrating your own self-evaluation with the feedback you receive from your speaker and from other club members. Then decide what you will do in your next evaluation to meet your goals of self-improvement.
Self-esteem and Personal GrowthEdit
Self-esteem fuels personal growth, while personal growth nourishes self-esteem. The evaluator must support the self-esteem of the member in order to accomplish the task of providing beneficial evaluation.
As this process unfolds, appropriate feedback helps the member to feel visible and valued. This requires that the feedback be accurate and apt. Consider the power in the following attributes of good feedback:
- Accurate perception—simply by being a perceptive, appreciative listener, you reinforce the speaker's self-esteem. On the other hand, failing to “get it” makes the speaker feel a lack of visibility. At best he will discount your feedback.
- Recognizing strengths—A speaker can always benefit from getting positive feedback. Strengths that you reflect back to the speaker will be reinforced in him.
- Recognizing improvement—Your speaker has committed to improving himself, and your recognition of that improvement reinforces it. Sometimes he will not be aware of his improvement and will be delightfully surprised by your recognition.
- Motivating—By understanding the speaker's values and goals, and by recognizing his accomplishments thereof, you act to motivate him to further efforts.
- Avoiding judging the member himself—Our own value as a human is an absolute, and does not derive from our performance. We can support a person's desire to change, and we must avoid attacking the person himself.
- Providing positive direction—This means making appropriate, creative, concrete suggestions about what the speaker may try to do in future projects. The best evaluators cultivate their skill for finding a valuable gift of this kind to give to the speaker.
Club Exercise: Building Self-EsteemEdit
Each club member prepares a written response to the question “How do I build self-esteem when I evaluate?”. Then the responses are tabulated and a display is created giving the unique, distinct responses. Compare your club's response to the list above.
Motivations to LearnEdit
Understanding why people choose to learn will enable you to better motivate them to improve. The goals we envision are multiple:
- To gain knowledge and skill.
- To meet a specific need, for example to be able to share information effectively, or to convince people to enact change.
- To gain material rewards, such as a promotion, or to gain new clients.
- To earn credit toward recognition, such as accreditation as a speaker.
- To gain satisfaction, for example from knowing one has improved as a speaker.
- To build self-esteem.
- To build self-confidence and overcome feelings of discomfort when speaking in public.
- To win acceptance and recognition, for example from our co-workers as they see our enhanced speaking and leading skills.
These goals are shared to varying degrees by Toastmasters. Two shared desires are undebatable:
- We want to improve our speaking and leading skills.
- We wish to know how to go about improving.
Solicit club members thoughts on their reasons for wanting better speaking and leadership ability, then assemble a display of the unique, different reasons and discuss as a group. Compare your club’s reasons with the eight listed above.
How our club may improve as evaluatorsEdit
- Emphasize quality evaluations—Encourage members to acquire expertise as effective evaluators to serve as models for other club members.
- Help members become better acquainted—Encourage sharing our stories, our needs in our self-paced learning, our goals in Toastmasters, what we feel we have accomplished, and what we wish to accomplish in future.
- Connect up each speaker with their evaluator early on—Begin the dialog well before the start of the meeting. Encourage the speaker to explain their speech project goals to the evaluator and encourage the evaluator to study the manual assignment and fully understand its objectives.
- Encourage dialog between speaker and evaluator—The dialog should commence before the meeting and continue afterwards, with the speaker giving feedback to the evaluator.
- Evaluate the evaluator—The General Evaluator in particular, and the club members in general, can contribute to this process, each one giving the speaker and the evaluator alike the benefit of their feedback.
- Encourage group evaluations as an alternative method of giving a speech evaluation.
- Benefit from the guidance of the speech manuals—they offer the speaker specific speech project objectives and goals, and they offer the evaluator specific guidelines for evaluation.
Club Exercise: Club Evaluation ClimateEdit
Have each club member fill out the Club Climate Questionnaire, part of The Art of Effective Evaluation seminar in the Success/Communication Series. Tabulate the scores for each of the questions in this self-evaluation questionnaire. Now hold a group discussion of the self-evaluation, addressing:
- What are the club's strengths in evaluation?
- What are the club's improvements in the quality of our evaluation?
- What are the club's areas for future improvement?
- What specific tasks shall the club undertake to improve our evaluation?
Traits of the Effective EvaluatorEdit
- You Nourish the Self-Esteem of the Speaker—You master the information on Effective_Evaluation#Self-esteem and Personal Growth and integrate it into your work as evaluator. Ending your evaluation on a positive note, you strive to have the speaker leaving the meeting feeling visible, recognized, and motivated to improve further.
- You Demonstrate Your Committment—You learn the speaker’s goals and objectives and you study the project in the speech manual. You give an evaluation that truly benefits the speaker. You avoid using the evaluation process to gratify your own ego and refrain from soft-pedaling your evaluation or whitewashing the speaker.
- You Suit the Evaluation to the Speaker—Your evaluation is appropriate to the self-improvement goals of the speaker and the objectives of the speech. Your evaluation takes into account the speaker’s challenges, such as shyness or nervousness.
- You Manifest Attentiveness—You pay attention to the speaker and her speech, remaining alert, empathizing with the speaker, and taking a genuine interest in the speech content. You “get” the speech—you are the speaker’s best audience. You take notes as need requires.
- You Motivate the Speaker—You cast your evaluation in terms of the speaker’s own values and aspirations. You recognize the speaker’s strengths and areas of improvement. You give the speaker encouragement. You give the speaker one or two valuable, creative concrete suggestions for something do or to work towards in her next speech, along with examples.
- You Avoid Tearing Down the Speaker—You always bear in mind the speaker’s worth as a person. You avoid reflecting on the person of the speaker or the quality of their speech’s content.
- You are a Guide, not a Sage—You refrain from setting yourself up as an authority on speechcraft. You keep your language personal rather than declarative.
There are a number of different possible formats for carrying out the evaluation process, each with its own advantages. Which you employ depends on your own level of comfort in evaluating, the skill and experience of the speaker, and the time available in the club meeting. You should choose a method that the speaker finds agreeable and which maximizes the benefit to speaker and club.
The Evaluation SpeechEdit
The Evaluator delivers a 2–3 minute speech to which all the members listen; the speech is evaluated by the meeting's General Evaluator. It is the most commonly used method among clubs, and is the model for the speeches in an Evaluation Contest.
People favor this method for its brevity, but it levels demands on the Evaluator, who should have excellent grounding in the speaker's speech project along with a degree of authority. Furthermore, it does not provide for public feedback from the speaker; instead it is left to the General Evaluator to evaluate the evaluator, and for private feedback from the Speaker and other club members.
Evaluation Speech with ResponseEdit
This method helps address the shortcomings of the briefer Evaluation Speech in that the speaker's feedback can act to keep the evaluation more commensurate with the needs of the speaker. Also, the feedback provided by the speaker promotes a bilateral relationship between the two members and helps the evaluator to improve. The cost over the Evaluation Speech method is the additional meeting time required for the response.
This format also levels demands on the speaker, who may feel shy about giving the called-for response. One way to alleviate the burden somewhat is for the General Evaluator to call on the Speaker for her evaluation of the Evaluator. This could be done either before or after the General Evaluator’s own remarks on the Evaluator.
- The Evaluator prepares by interviewing the Speaker and learning the speech objectives and how they integrate with the goals of the speaker.
- After the speech, the Evaluator conducts a problem-solving dialog with the speaker in front of the members (in lieu of the Evaluation Speech), similar to the kind of dialog conducted by a Facilitator or Motivator. The speaker is drawn out to identify the speech's strengths, areas of improvement, and areas for future improvement; examples of non-threatening questions would be:
- How would you consider your speech in light of your goals and the manual's objectives?
- What did you find satisfying about your speech, and what in what aspects would you wish for more?
- The dialog leads to mutual agreement on the three topics (strengths, improvement, and future improvement).
- The dialog next attempts to find specific things the speaker can do in future projects, and the speaker commits to doing one or more of these things.
Depending on time available, club members may contribute to this dialog, under the control of the Evaluator.
This method will consume more of the meeting time than members are used to. The General Evaluator should ensure that sufficient time on the meeting agenda is budgeted for it. As skill with the process grows, the club can look to a more time-efficient process.
The method levels demands on the speaker to understand clearly what his learning process requires, and on the Evaluator to have the facilitation skills to effectively and efficiently conduct such a dialog. For a beginning speaker, the goals should be narrowed to include only the few appropriate to his progress in the Competent Communication Manual; do not prematurely introduce, say, Body Language.
One outcome of this process is that the Speaker himself decides what he will take on as his assignment for improvement; the Evaluator may have different ideas in mind. This is acceptable, however, in light of the fact that the Evaluator cannot expect the Speaker to take her suggestions for improvement unless he actually want to.
Other Evaluation FormatsEdit
- Specialized Evaluation—Each evaluator is assigned a particular part to evaluate. For example, one evaluator is assigned to evaluate the opening of all three prepared speakers, while another is assigned to evaluate the organization of all three. This has the benefit of encouraging the Evaluator to focus on the one speech component. The cross comparison of three different speech openings can also be beneficial to the members, because it is infrequently done.
- Panel Discussions—AlI evaluators evaluate all speech or leadership roles, making notes on items which they feel need emphasis and discussion. The general evaluator then leads a discussion with the evaluators. If enough time is available, the audience can comment, too. This method levels higher demands on the Evaluators, who now have to prepare themselves on all of the speech- and leadership projects at the meeting. However it can have the benefit of bringing multiple eyes to bear on any one project and encouraging a dialog.
- Recorded Speeches—Speakers and leaders are recorded (video or audio), and the recordings are reviewed during the meeting (time permitting). Each evaluator refers to the recording while giving the verbal evaluation to illustrate points he is making. Or speakers and leaders may take their recordings home for private review. In another variation, the evaluator and speaker or leader meet later to review the recording and both evaluate the presentation. This method is an extension of recording members’ speeches, in itself a valuable process.
- “Stop the Speaker” Evaluations—The evaluator stops the speaker or leader and gives immediate reaction. For example, if the speaker's voice is too soft, the evaluator would stop the speaker ant. say, “I can't hear you. Speak louder.” Or the evaluator may stop the leader and say, “You may want to offer some specific suggestions for improving the meeting.” Of course. the speaker or leader must agree before the meeting to this type of evaluation, since it can be distracting, and the Evaluator must strive to refrain from disrupting the meeting unduly.
Club Exercise: Self-Evaluate EvaluationsEdit
Prepare all club members with three Individual Speech Evaluation Forms.
After the three speeches have been given, each of the three Evaluators carries out his evaluation.
Lead a group discussion of the three Evaluations, perhaps in Round Robin format. Questions for the group to consider:
- “Would you have given recognition in the same areas selected by the evaluator? If not, what would you have done?”
- “Would you have offered suggestions for future work in the same areas selected by the evaluator? If not, what would you have done?”
- “What did the Evaluator do that you particularly wish to recognize?”
- “What suggestion for future improvement do you have to offer the Evaluator?”
Club Exercise: Club Self-Evaluation Edit
Each club member writes their response to the following questions:
- “Do I want to evaluate more effectively?”
- “Do I understand how to improve?”
- “Am I committed to working with club members in evaluation?”
- “Identify three specific things I will do to make my next evaluation more effective”
Hold a group discussion in which the members share their commitment to effective evaluation and the action items they have taken on to evaluate more effectively.
Evaluation Step by StepEdit
How to PrepareEdit
The speaker or leader has spent hours—even weeks—preparing a project. She deserves the best evaluation possible. The evaluation you provide should be thoughtfully prepared and presented. You will not need hours of preparation time, but you will need at least 15 minutes to do the following:
- Read the project. Every project in the Competent Communication, Advanced Communication, and Competent Leadership manuals has a different purpose and different objectives. You will have difficulty evaluating if you are not familiar with the project and objectives. Before the club meeting, obtain the manual and carefully read the project description and objectives.
- Read the evaluation guide for the project. The guide explains what you should be looking for as you evaluate. It lists specific questions about the speaker or leader and provides a space in which you may write comments. This is the written evaluation you will give to the speaker or leader after the meeting. Your evaluation need not be limited to these points, however. If you want to comment on other aspects of the person's efforts, you are welcome to do so.
- Talk with the speaker or leader. Your evaluation will be most helpful if you are aware of the person's general goals and of specific areas in which the person would like help and feedback. If the leader tells you, for example, that she is working on strengthening her organization skills, you may want to specifically address this in your evaluation, even though the evaluation guide does not mention it.
You will also be more helpful if you are aware of previous feedback the speaker or leaders has received and any progress made. Avoid duplicating previous evaluations, and don't merely watch for small inadequacies. Good eye contact, meaningful, natural gestures, and correct grammar contribute to the overall effect of a speech but should not be given so much emphasis that they detract from the basic purpose of the evaluation.
Before the club meeting begins, get the manual from the speaker or leader and turn to the appropriate evaluation guide. Listen carefully and watch closely. Don't let your mind wander or become distracted. Take notes if you want to.
After the speaker or leader has finished, begin preparing your evaluation. Complete the evaluation guide, but remember that you need not comment on every question.
Then prepare your verbal presentation. You won't have time to cover everything. Instead, simply select two or three points which you feel are most important and elaborate on them. Be honest. If you did not like some aspect of the person's performance, do not say that you did. Mention something the person did well in addition to something which could be improved. Some Toastmasters like the sandwich approach, where a suggestion for improvement is sandwiched between two positive comments. Evaluate only areas that the speaker or leader has the power to change.
Be specific about the need for improvement, and always offer a suggestion for how to improve. If the speech organization was confusing at one point, say so, but clearly address what confused you and offer a suggestion for improvement. “When you were talking about the truck, I wasn't sure if you were referring to the new one or to the old one. Giving each truck an appropriate nickname and using it throughout the speech would have made the references clearer to me and maybe even have added humor.” Or “I found the evaluation helpful. But I believe that limiting the number of helpful suggestions to three instead of five would have been more manageable and less overwhelming for the speaker.” If you were impressed, for example, with the speaker's description of an object, say so. “When you described that fudge cake, my mouth watered.”
How You Say ItEdit
How you phrase your evaluation has as much impact on the speaker or leader as the content of your evaluation. When you mean well and have good ideas but use words that put the person on the defensive, your message is lost. Carefully select your words, using the following guidelines.
- Remember that you are speaking only for yourself, giving only your opinion. You are not speaking on behalf of the audience. In fact, your opinions may differ from those of the rest of the audience. Avoid saying “we think,” “we believe,” “the audience would have,” “The audience didn’t understand,” and other words that imply you are speaking on behalf of others.
- Likewise, avoid impersonal statements that imply someone other than you is giving the evaluation, or imply the evaluation is directed to someone other than the speaker. Do not say “they say,” “one must,” “people are” or make other vague references.
- Avoid judgment words and phrases, such as “good leaders don’t” “that was the wrong thing to say,” “if you want to do it right, you must,” “you did,” and “you were”.
- Use words that describe your own reactions to the speaker, such as “I was impressed with” “I was confused about,” “when I heard,” and “l would have found the speech’s purpose clearer if” and “I liked it when.”
- Don’t repeat a point once you have made it. Repeating a point can sound like nagging.
- Avoid words like “never” and “always.” These exaggerations detract from your message.
When you evaluate, you are giving your personal opinion in a friendly, direct, non-threatening manner. Look directly at the speaker or leader as you give your presentation. Smile. This is not a speech, and you should do nothing that calls more attention to yourself than to your effort to help the speaker or leader. Avoid exaggerated gestures or Body Language unless they are to illustrate a point you are making about the person's efforts.
As You ConcludeEdit
The speaker or leader should always walk away from the meeting feeling motivated and eager to begin working on his next project. How you finish your evaluation often determines whether a speaker or leader is motivated or unmotivated. Conclude on a positive note, one that helps build self-esteem and self-confidence.
You could finish by pointing out a particular part of the person’s efforts that you really liked and the effect it had on you. If the person has shown dramatic improvement in some area, mention it and offer congratulations. Find something that affected you in a positive way and comment on it.
After the meeting, return the manual with your written evaluation and ask the speaker or leader for feedback about your evaluation. Make sure the speaker or leader did not misinterpret anything you said. If you have other comments you would like to make verbally, do it at this point. Ask if you could have said or done anything differently in your evaluation that would have been more helpful.
Follow Up with the AudienceEdit
As mentioned earlier, your evaluation is simply your opinion. You may want to speak with other members in the audience to see if your evaluation was indeed appropriate and accurate. Opinions may vary. But such feedback can help you the next time you are assigned to evaluate a speaker or leader.
Working with Your EvaluatorEdit
When you are the Speaker or Leader being evaluated, you can do several things to ensure you receive the most benefit.
- Inform the Evaluator and Vice President Education of your goals. This will enable the Vice President Education to plan meetings that will help you to meet your goals. The Evaluator also will know what to consider when evaluating your next project.
- Tell your Evaluator any specific points you would like her to review. The more the Evaluator knows about what you hope to accomplish or any specific areas you want help with, the more they can help you.
- During your evaluation, listen carefully to the evaluator. Look directly at the evaluator and pay attention to what is being said. Suspend all judgment or reaction to what you hear. Be receptive and do not criticize the evaluator or make faces, other gestures, or jokes. Speakers who do not accept evaluations gracefully soon discover no one wants to evaluate them. If you have something to say to the Evaluator, speak with them after the meeting.
- Carefully consider each comment and suggestion for improvement. Do not rush to judgment about anything your Evaluator says. Immediately dismissing the Evaluator by thinking, This person doesn't know what he is talking about or She missed the point means you may be missing out on some valuable feedback. Remember, the Evaluator is merely offering her opinion of what she saw and heard. Some of her opinions and perceptions may be valid and useful to you, others may not. You won't know until you have heard and considered all of them.
- Evaluate your efforts yourself. You usually can tell if you achieved your purpose, and you are most likely aware of mistakes you made. After every speech or leadership project, write down what you were pleased with and what you know you should work on when preparing your next project.
- After the meeting, speak with the Evaluator. This is your opportunity to ask any questions about the evaluation you received. Be careful not to attack or berate the Evaluator. However, if you believe the Evaluator could have said something more effectively or been able to help you more, say so, and offer specific suggestions for improvement. If the Evaluator did not mention an area on which you would like his feedback, discuss this with him and solicit his opinion.
- Talk with other club members. Your Evaluator was only one person offering one opinion. You will benefit more by soliciting feedback from other audience members. As mentioned earlier, most clubs encourage aIl members to give brief written feedback to a speaker, This input can be very helpful. However, verbal feedback is valuable, too. Ask other members what they thought and ask their advice for improvement.
Make every effort to develop evaluation skills. Observe other evaluators. Ask questions. Study the manuals. You may even find it helpful to visit other Toastmaster clubs and listen to their evaluators. With more exposure to a variety of evaluations, you will be able to improve your own and help fellow club members improve their speaking and leadership skills. You will also be able to use your evaluation skills outside of the club, becoming more confident in your interactions with others at work, at home, and in the community.
See Evaluator Resources for a full list of resources relating to evaluations.