Blog of Sara Jakša

Toastmasters - How To Make A Better Evaluvation

An important part in Toastmasters experience is also evaluation part. Especially the evaluation of the main speeches.

I realized, that the more I was evaluating something, the more I recognize with my own mistakes of that kind. Everybody in the club know it. For example, I had a lot of troubles with fillers, so they had me as an ah-counter a lot of times.

But this is why I liked evaluation the main speech more. I only have to be concentrated for a little less than 10 minutes, and not on the whole meeting. The second is, that as a evaluator of the main speech, I have to concentrate on a lot of different stuff. From structure, to language, to body language and so on.

But evaluation of evaluation rarely happens, at least in my opinion. I get sometimes, that I am a little but too critical, yet a lot of people are trying to reserve me now to correct my speeches. I am also referred as somebody that makes great evaluations.

I start with the A4 paper. I write the name and the number of the speech on the middle. I leave some space for the name of the speech and circle it.

Then I use that paper to create a mind map. I start by big branches. What I am looking for are the structure, point, language, vocal, body language, use of things, understandable, references, humor and audience interaction and other.

Yes, for the once that are familiar with the Competent Communicator from Toastmasters organization, I did use it as an inspiration. I have to say, they did know what to pay attention too.

Some of them also have a smaller branches out. Language have words, sentences and metaphors and other. Body language have eye contact, moving and hands. References have the sources and ways to explain.

Then I read the chapter on the speech, that I am going to be evaluating. I use the chapter, and the list on the back, to write additional branches.

I also send an email, to ask the speaker, if he has any additional wish, what to look for in his or her speech. I also add that to the mind map.

Right before I leave for toastmasters meeting, I refresh the mind map inside my head.

While listening to the speech, I try and note everything. I am adding notes to the mind map and I try to put down at least something for every branch.

When giving the oral evaluation, I don't say everything. I try to find two things that I liked and two things that I didn't. One of the things that I liked and both that I didn't I try to get from the subject, that was in the book or that they wanted me to pay attention to. If I can't find two things that I didn't like from there, then I use something else.

If I think, that the mistakes weren't that big, then I start by pointing out, what they did good - the one from either the book or paying attention section. Then I point both of mistakes, and finishing with something good, from the other sections.

But if I think, that the mistake was really big, then I will first point out the mistake, then the good, the other bad and finishing with the good.

I know that psychology is teaching us, that people can become defensive, if staring with the negative one, and what we got as a result was a sandwich effect. I believe, that if people are a member of Toastmasters club, they would have to be at least on the courage level of consciouses and that would mean, they are above pride. So there is less chance of them rejecting the whole evaluation.

But studies also show, that we remember best, what was on the beginning and the end, that is why, if the mistake is big, I put it on the front. So that people can remember it better. I prefer to leave the end for something positive, as to show, that there is hope in the future.

After going home, when I had the time to let my subconsciouses deal with the speech, I start writing the written evaluation as well, that I later send to the speaker.

Then I go big branch by big branch on my mind map, and write the whole evaluation. If I thought the speech was really bad, that evaluation is going to be the one, that will reflect it more correctly, than my first one. If I thought it was better than perfect, then that evaluation will be more than 1000 words of praises.

I write from memory and from mind map, making the evaluation. I start by writing a sentence or two generally about the speech, then write paragraphs, staring with structure and usually ending with humor. Then I add the general feeling of the speech. What my intuition is telling me about it.

Then I sent and wait for any questions or clarifications. If there are none, that this is a scope of my it.