How to Give a Toastmasters Evaluation
Toastmasters is an international public speaking club.
All around the world, there are clubs that are designed to help an upcoming public speaker overcome their speech anxiety.
The club has many components.
- Planned speeches
- Impromptu speeches
- Timer reports
And so much more.
But it will be unfair if we forget the coveted evaluators.
The evaluation is the person that evaluates the planned speeches.
And in my opinion, the evaluator has one of the most important roles for the club.
It is the evaluator that can provide constructive criticism that allows the public speaker to level up & continue with their journey.
But all too often, I’ve seen evaluators who did a sloppy evaluation.
In this post, my intent is to make sure you don’t fall into that boat.
I am going to give you a few evaluation tips so you deliver your evaluation with grace.
Who knows, you may even be able to take home a Best Evaluators Ribbon.
What is An Evaluation?
Depending on the size of a Toastmasters club, there will typically be 1-3 planned speeches.
Each of the planned speeches has an evaluator assigned to evaluate the speech.
There’s some good news & bad news.
Which one do you want to hear first?
‘The good news.’
The good news is that each speaker will give you an evaluation sheet.
The evaluation sheet gives you certain criteria to look out for.
Each of the evaluation sheets depends on the speech & the pathway that the speaker is in.
This is good news because you are given a rough framework of WHAT to look out for.
‘Okay, what about the bad news?’
The bad news is that you don’t have a long time to prepare.
Unlike the planned speeches, the evaluator has to create their speech in the club session.
You basically hear the speech, design your evaluation, and give it THAT meeting.
‘Am I allowed to use notes?’
Yes, you are allowed to bring your evaluation sheet up or use an index card (if you bought one).
If you feel extra confident, then you can also plan it out & give it without any notes.
That’s up to you.
Overall, the main goal of the evaluation is to leave the speaker with vital information on what they did right & what they can improve.
Evaluation mistakes happen when you fall too much on one side of the spectrum.
- Some people are TOO nice.
- Some people are TOO mean.
Let’s go through both situations.
I’ve seen a lot of evaluators who go up on stage and just give the speaker a big pat on the back.
That’s not an issue if you could not spot any faults in the speech.
But it is a HUGE issue if you did spot faults in the speech but didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
Remember, constructive criticism is only mean when you think mean is the only way.
In reality, you can give constructive criticism in a very pleasant manner, which I will bring up shortly.
Being too nice is an issue because it doesn’t allow the speaker to improve.
You have not given them the gift of awareness & they may just continue on with the same mistakes.
Also, this causes your other fellow Toastmasters to pick up YOUR slack.
Now it’s up to them to break the critiques. Not worth it.
Being too nice is a problem & does more harm than good.
Being too mean is an equivalent problem.
For my first ever speech, my evaluator tore into my talk.
He was a grizzled Toastmasters veteran who took pride in ‘telling it like it is.’
Rather than be nice, he was the exact opposite.
Basically got on stage & just pointed out what I did wrong.
And minimized any strengths of the speech.
This hurt my feelings at first.
But overall, it served as fuel to keep pushing on & doubling down.
However, don’t assume everyone will be able to recover from your mean attitude.
For some people, it will be enough to quit public speaking altogether.
How to do an Evaluation: The Hamburger Method
The proper way to do a Toastmasters evaluation is to be in the middle ground.
You don’t want to be too mean or too nice.
The center is where the money is at.
And the way that you will do that is via the Hamburger Method.
This method includes:
- Talk about what the speaker did right.
- Talk about what the speaker could improve.
- Summary of the evaluation + Reinforcement of the positive.
Let’s go thru each one.
1. What the speaker did right
You want to open on a positive note.
This allows you to bypass the speaker’s ego.
If you open with criticism, then they will shut down & your words will fall on deaf ears.
Talk about everything you enjoyed about the speech.
Content & delivery wise.
‘Question bro. What if there wasn’t anything good about the speech?’
If you didn’t notice anything good, then commend them for getting on stage.
Public speaking is the number 1 fear on the planet.
Many people do not have the courage to step foot on the stage.
Give the speaker praise for showing courage & taking the road less taken.
2. Areas of Improvement
I call it “areas of improvement” rather than “criticism” for a reason.
When you think “criticism”, it insinuates too much of a negative connotation.
While the phrase, “areas of improvement” allows for development.
For this section, you want to be honest & talk about what you think the speaker could have leveled up on.
Remember, the purpose of the evaluation is to give the speaker information on how to do better.
Anytime you give them the gift of awareness, you have allowed them to get a positive return on investment in joining Toastmasters.
Tonality matters for this part.
Have a gentle tone & a slight smile on your face.
This allows the speaker to be more receptive to your feedback.
3. Summary + Reinforcement of the Positives
And for the final block, you want to summarize your entire talk.
Cover the high-level points that you made so the speaker digests it.
Then, wrap up with final words of encouragement.
Leave the Toastmasters evaluation on a positive note.
This allows you to successfully execute the Hamburger Method.
- Positive: Bun
- Area of improvement: Meat
- Positive: Bun
Remember, the evaluation is timed, so you want to stay mindful of that.
Luckily, there is a timer who will keep you aware of where you stand with the time.
In my club, a Toastmasters evaluation was typically 3-4 minutes long.
Around the end of the meeting, the club will vote on the best evaluator.
You will not qualify for the vote if you go over the designated evaluation time limit.
Your main goal is to leave the speaker better off than you found them.
But it wouldn’t hurt if you also win a ribbon too.
Once you have given a few evaluations, you will begin enjoying the process more.
The first one requires overcoming some nerves, but it becomes more fun from there.
A strong ability to give an evaluation is a mega skill not just in the public speaking world, but in the real world.
You are able to get your authentic message across without making an enemy in the process.
Level up your Toastmasters evaluation & get the most out of the number 1 public speaking club in the world.
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– ArmaniTalks 🎙️🔥