Credible Constructive Feedback: Art of Evaluations

It is your reaction to the speech as it came across to you: what you saw, heard, and felt in the message.

If different individuals give evaluation feedback to the same speaker, will that be different? The answer is yes: each person has a different perspective, state of mind, temperament, and background to feel and perceive the speech.

  • It is an opportunity for the speaker to see how a fellow toastie received their speech.
  • It is a helpful peer-to-peer support system to improve and learn.

The speaker should appreciate feedback from the evaluator. The evaluator, a fellow toastie, listens to the speech presentation carefully, thinks critically about the project objectives, writes notes, prepares detailed feedback, and sincerely attempts to deliver it constructively.

At a Toastmasters meeting, the speaker avoids interrupting, countering, talking back, or arguing with an evaluator in the middle of the evaluation.

A Toastie genuinely cares for fellow toasties in the group.

At Toastmasters, we encourage every teenager to get on their cutting edge, stretch their comfort zone, and try new ideas. So, an evaluator shares their reaction in a very positive and constructive way. The evaluation could be an opportunity to make friends with a new speaker or sometimes take the speaker in your wings. An evaluator always roots for the success of a fellow toastie making a speech attempt.

Think about it from the speaker’s perspective. Examples:

  1. Suppose it is an Ice Breaker speech where the speaker stands up for a prepared presentation for the first time. In that case, it is essential not to overwhelm them with too many areas to improve: accentuate the positives a little bit more, maybe to encourage them.
  2. Suppose you give feedback to an experienced speaker preparing for a competition or a critical school presentation. In that case, the speaker might find detailed insights for improvement more helpful.

Q: What if you disagree with a viewpoint a speaker shares in their speech?
A: Focus on the speaker’s project objectives and how well you think they achieved them. It is an absolute NO-NO to counter the speaker or argue against their take in your evaluation.

Q: Do you have to agree with the speaker’s viewpoint even if you don’t believe in it?
A: As an evaluator, you don’t have to agree or disagree with the speaker’s opinion or message. Look at it from the speaker’s perspective: think of what they did well and where they could improve to achieve their goals.

For example, what if you see a lot of value in social media and the speaker’s message was social media is the worst thing that happened to teenagers? Try to understand what they tried to convey and how well you think they succeeded in developing the statement. Probably okay to mention that your opinion on it was different, but the focus of an evaluation should be on what the speaker did well and where they could improve to develop their intended message.

Q: Do you share what a speaker could have done differently for a more substantial impact/impression on you?
A: Yes. Evaluations are the heart and soul of toastmasters and an incredibly empowering tool for teenagers to grow and develop. Seeing a genuine perspective from a fellow teenager toastie regarding how their message was received and perceived is priceless. Speakers can use it to understand how to improve.

The critical success factor with the role of an evaluator is to ensure the message doesn’t come across as a judgment or a piece of advice. Use the techniques from our one-pager on delivering the message (it is PDF and opens in a new tab when you click here.)

Q: Do you share what came across effectively from the speech?
A: Yes. An evaluation isn’t just a fault-finding mission; it should also include positives from the speech.

  1. Review the project objectives before the speech.
  2. Write down notes while listening to the speech.
  3. Focus on the project objectives while putting your thoughts together. Each project targets a specific area, for example, organizing your message, using descriptive language, vocal variety, body language, visual aids, persuading your audience, etc.
  4. Smile and address the speaker using their name.
  5. Make your feedback specific – pull in particular instances and details from the speech and use that when you give an evaluation. The speaker can understand and relate to your feedback when you do that.

Read and take the printed copy of our PDF note on evaluations to the meeting. Click here to download. It opens in a new tab.

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