OMG! I have to evaluate a speaker this week.

Providing feedback to speakers at Toastmasters is an honor.  It is also a gift to both you and the speaker.  Thinking otherwise is counter productive and will lead you to half-heartedly presenting your feedback.

A common misconception is that you have nothing of value to say or that you are not qualified to provide feedback.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Your observations are valuable.

First off, if you can contact your speaker to see which project they are presenting, and if there are any other things they would like you to watch/listen for or are nervous about, you will be ahead of the game. A quick e-mail or call will be perfect for this.

Once you know the project, review the speech objectives and evaulation questions so you are familiar with the stated goals.

During the speech, be prepared to take some notes on what you see and hear so you can organize enough to speak for 2 to 3 minutes when you are called upon to do so.

Please do not try to cover every point you write down.  You will be giving those notes to the speaker and during your evaluation, it is best to concentrate on two or three points that you observed that were good or that could have been presented differently to become more effective.

When giving your evaluation, try to direct some of your comments directly to the speaker, but also to members around the room. Tell the audience what you felt the speaker did well, then talk directly to the speaker when you want them to listen carefully to the opportunities you observed. Using this technique, the speaker doesn’t feel singled out and the audience remains engaged (and will often show you that they agree with you).

Use specific wording or actions from the speech to make your point. For example, when Jay said “…..”, he painted a vivid picture of the environment which really helped develop the story.

Some evaluators use the “what I heard, what I saw, what I felt” approach.  Others use the “sandwich” approach (something good, something that could be better, and something good again). It doesn’t matter much how you organize your evaluation so long as it helps the speaker.

Finally, you are providing feedback, not criticizing, so as you tell the speaker that their speech was exciting/motivating/inspiring/thought provoking/etc., it is letting them know how they affected you (and the audience).

Remember to confirm with the General Evaluator and get your speaker’s manual or Pathways evaluation form at the beginning of the meeting.

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