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The Art of Evaluation

For many, the most valuable aspect of Toastmasters is the evaluations they give and receive. In successful clubs, members support each other through evaluations that encourage speakers to continue practicing and learning. Members who receive thoughtful evaluations feel heard and become motivated to improve. 

When giving evaluations: 

  • Approach each speech with honesty while remaining positive 
  • Pay attention to the speaker’s goals for self-improvement
  • Evaluate what the speaker does and not who the speaker is
  • Report what you see, hear and feel as a member speaks 
  • Delivering an evaluation is an excellent way to practice and demonstrate your speaking skills. Remember these five points:

1. Before the speech, review the evaluation guidelines for that particular project and approach the speaker to discuss the objectives for their speech. Address any concerns.

2. Personalize your language. Before giving your evaluation, put yourself in the position of the speaker. Use “I” phrases and stay away from phrases like “You didn’t … ,” “You should have … ,” “You failed to ….”

3. To encourage improvement, use words like “I believe …,” “My reaction was …,” “I suggest that….”

4. Evaluate the speech—not the person! Always keep your main purpose in mind: to support, help and encourage the speaker. Don’t assess personal qualities—only assess actions related to the speech.

5. Promote self-esteem. Motivate and inspire the speaker to deliver another speech by giving sincere praise and constructive suggestions on what they can improve. Always end your evaluation with positive feedback.

For more tips, read manuals such as Enhancing Evaluations and Giving Effective Feedback

The evaluation component in Toastmasters will become even stronger in the Pathways learning experience, which is scheduled to launch in January. In Pathways, evaluators will be able to use standardized criteria that will help increase the consistency of evaluations for members around the world. Visit the Toastmasters website for more information about Pathways.