Credible Constructive Feedback: Art of Evaluations

  • It is your reaction to the speech as it came across to you: what you saw, heard, felt in the speech.
  • It is constructive feedback to the speaker from your perspective.
  • It is an opportunity for the speaker to see, hear, feel how you received his/her speech. If different individuals give evaluation feedback to the same speaker, will that be different? Yes, of course, it will be different, as different people have a different perspective, state of mind, temperament, the background to feel and perceive the speech. Over time, speakers get evaluations from various friends, and they have a powerful tool to improve.
  • It is a direct, one-on-one conversation with the speaker. You still want to be inclusive to all in the group, so stay in front of the room.
  • It is a critique you develop to focus on the specific objectives of the speech project that the speaker used.
  • It is a powerful tool and opportunity to learn active listening, critical thinking, self-awareness, empathy, coherent message development while thinking on your feet.

  • It is an opportunity to see how your speech was received, perceived from someone else’s perspective.
  • It is an opportunity to improve in a very supportive environment.

What can help you cultivate your credibility with the speaker and the rest of the group?

  1. Read the project thoroughly before the speech. Try to connect with the speaker before the meeting so you know which speech project you are evaluating. Ask your coach about it during the week.
  2. When you weren’t able to prepare like that before, you will still get 15-20 min before the speech. Use that to read the project description and evaluation questions. (the first option will always be more rewarding for you)
  3. Listen to the speech carefully. Listen with a purpose to see, hear, feel the presentation for the speaker’s specific objectives.
  4. Write down notes. Always have a piece of paper to jot down your notes.
  5. Strike a one-on-one conversation with the speaker. Use our guidelines for the evaluation technique. (Click to download, opens in a new tab). As you start, smile and address the speaker using his/her name. It will make you both comfortable – you and the speaker.
  6. You are not giving an evaluation on behalf of the whole group; you are speaking only for yourself.
  7. Make your feedback specific – pull in particular instances, points from the speech, and use that when you give an evaluation. When you do that, the speaker can relate to your feedback and understand it even more important.
  8. Please think of the speaker and speech from his/her perspective. Have you listened to this speaker before? If so, what was your experience then? Did you see the speaker make a sincere attempt?
  9. Limit the number of suggestions to improve to three or fewer. Develop positives you captured from the speech as well.
  10. While talking directly to the speaker, stay in front of the room, so the rest of the group can see you when you give an evaluation. You are not providing evaluation on behalf of the whole group; you are speaking only for yourself.
  11. As an evaluator, your evaluation is also a speech in itself:
    • Have a clear organization to it. Toastmasters evaluation questions are very well thought out not only for the speech project’s objectives but also in their sequence. If you use each item in the evaluation form as a point and develop it, pulling in notes you have, your evaluation will get natural organization and flow.
    • Always have a conclusion for your evaluation. The last question in the evaluation form can help you with this. Use the answer to that question to end your evaluation speech.

Deven’s presentation on how evaluation can help cultivate communication skills:

Q: What if you disagree with the speaker’s view?

A: You aren’t evaluating the speaker on his/her view. You are trying to help the speaker achieve the objective of effectively communicating his/her viewpoint.


Speaker developed a point in his/her speech that social media is bad for teenagers. What if you actually love social media and firmly believe that it is suitable for teenagers. Do you give it all negative to the speaker in your evaluation because of your personal beliefs? The answer is no. Do you change your view on it? The answer is no unless the speaker convinced you in his/her view using the speech.

If your view didn’t change after the speech, this isn’t a debate here between you and the speaker, either – try to objectively look at the speaker’s objectives and share your reaction to how well the speaker met them.

Now, if the speech objective was to persuade your audience, the speaker had his/her work cut out with you since, to begin with, you had a strong bias against it. One way to share your reaction in this case: “My view on it is very different, and so you had a tough sale with me. However, here are the good things I saw in your persuasion technique. ”

See a little more on the conversation in this blog post on empathy and emotional intelligence (click here.)

Use Competent Leadership (CL) manual projects to receive peer feedback on your evaluation.

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