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August 4, 2017 / subramanyam

Effective Evaluations – 1

In the past few weeks, I was fortunate enough to deliver a few sessions on Effective Evaluations in the ToastMaster clubs of Hyderabad.

I did get to learn quite a number of things as I did these sessions.  I intend to share a few of them in a series of articles. I hope that they would be of some use to the contestants of the Speech Evaluation Contest.

In the first article of this series, let us look at some of the common mistakes we tend to commit when we evaluate a speech.

Common Pitfalls to be avoided.  In a way avoiding these pitfalls is a Hygiene factor for a good evaluation.

1. I am speaking on behalf of the audience:
We typically believe that we are speaking on behalf of the entire audience. Remember as an evaluator we are voicing out our thoughts only and not the opinions of everyone in the audience. Hence, please do not use the any of the following words: “the audience was with you, You had all of us in grip, we as the audience did not like this” etc.  Remember many in the audience might not share the same view point, hence, it is always good to use “I”  word.  for example , we can use

  • In my opinion
  • I got connected with the speech
  • I felt that
  • In my analysis
  • My recommendations
  • In summary /To Summarize

2. Giving too many points would help the speaker.
The truth is it does not. Pick 5-6 points (3 good, 3 areas of Improvement ) and present them. Tell the speaker as to why you picked them. Give specific recommendations. This is more than enough. The depth of the evaluation helps the speaker more than the breadth of it.

3. Repeating a point adds emphasis
In reality, it does not, on the contrary, you might come across as a person obsessed with a trait in the speech. Some might even say that We were not sure of the point we made and are justifying ourselves by repeating it. (Particularly while making a recommendation). So, once you have made a specific commendation/recommendation, move on to the next point.

4. My job is to tell all the traits of a good speech 
The evaluation is your opinion/reaction to one particular speech of the speaker. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. Many times we as evaluators are tempted to the speaker about the ideal traits of a good speech. This is good, but then it makes us waste a lot of time. (we only have 3 mins) So, please focus on the speech at hand and give your recommendations how it can be improved.  Again, while suggesting an improvements ensure that the particular suggestion is actually doable.

5. I as an Evaluator matter a lot
It is often touted in every of our meetings that evaluation is the best thing in ToastMasters.  It is very true.  However, the unspoken rule is that  we as evaluators are only giving our opinions; it is up to the speaker to pick what he/she wants.  Since we are giving our opinion, we need not be too sympathetic or too harsh on the speaker.  We can speak in our  tone and deliver it as our opinion.  Again, I said we need not be too sympathetic.  We definitely need to be sympathetic and our evaluation must come across as a sensitive and motivational one.

That’s it for this post. Please share your opinions on this , the next post on Effective Evaluations would be out soon.

Note : These are not my own words/realizations.  I have picked these things from the TM manuals and added my flavor to them.  So the credit goes to ToastMasters. 




Leave a Comment
  1. Padmakumar Ananthakrishnan / Aug 6 2017 5:56 pm

    Nice piece, Subbu. Here is a nice insight I got from listening to Chandra DP yesterday at our club He mentioned that as evaluators, we may be making some assumptions on what the speech should contain, based on the title of the speech. And if for any reason, the speaker does not touch upon those, our evaluation may get skewed. So his advice was to be content-agnostic and delivery-focused in evaluations. Only in competitions do ‘judges’ have to focus on the content, besides the delivery. Hope this helps. I found this very insightful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. subramanyam / Aug 20 2017 9:47 pm

    Padma sir, Great you have your comment on my blog. I am honored.

    I loved that insight. We should not base our evaluations based on our expectations from the content.

    I think we can still touch upon the logical flow of the speech. I mean does the support material help the purpose, was the intention coming out correctly in the stories etc . We can also analyze as to what the speaker was doing , was the sepaker banking heavily on the emotion or was the speaker making an attempt to connect to the audience logically ? I think we ought to look at this.

    Again this is my opinion and want to discuss this with when we catch up again.

    Thanks again for visiting my blog and gracing me with a comment. It means a lot to me.

    Thank you
    Subramanyam K.V.


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