How To Master the Art of Evaluation and Improve Your Public Speaking Skills

Constant evaluation is the key to long-term, personal and professional growth. Why? Because constructive feedback is essential to improvement. Even if it can feel a little awkward, the benefits you receive from gathering meaningful and tangible feedback far outweigh any short-term discomfort. 

Toastmasters facilitates a constructive feedback loop as an essential part of its educational program. If you truly want to improve your speaking and leadership skills, you must learn how to give and receive helpful evaluations. Here are some valuable tips on how to give and receive effective evaluation from seasoned evaluators at San Diego Toastmasters 7:

TIPS FOR THE EVALUATOR

The main purpose of the Evaluator is to provide constructive and encouraging feedback that helps the speaker improve his/her speaking skills and gain confidence.

Toastmasters International promotes the “sandwich technique” as its model for evaluations. Here’s how it works: 

  • State the positives of the speech
  • Suggest an area or two for improvement
  • Finish with another positive comment

Simple, encouraging, yet effective. This feedback style is also recommended for written audience feedback. If you find yourself acting as an Evaluator, remember to only evaluate areas the speaker has the power to change. Just because you personally don’t like a speech, doesn’t mean your opinion is warranted. Unless your criticism is productive, keep it to yourself. 

Shadi Abudayyeh, seasoned member at San Diego Toastmasters 7, shared why Evaluator is his favorite role.

Competent Communicator Shadi Abudayyeh, presenting an evaluation at a San Diego Toastmasters 7 meeting on March 16, 2019, at Normal Heights Community Center in San Diego, CA.

“By giving constant evaluations, I have become better at giving the most direct and straightforward advice. Being an Evaluator has helped me stay constantly focused during speeches, provide individualized feedback, and helped me become a better communicator,” Abudayyeh said. 

It helps to remember the speaker you are evaluating likely spent hours (or even weeks!) preparing for a project. They deserve a meaningful and thoughtful evaluation. Here are some tips to help Evaluators provide the most value to the speaker:

Do your research. Chat with the speaker beforehand, find out which Pathways project he/she is presenting and look up the specific project objectives. Be sure to ask if there are any additional areas beyond the project evaluation form they want you to focus on. 

Listen before you evaluate. DTM Chris Hammel, explains why he rarely takes notes during evaluations. 

Distinguished Toast Master Chris Hammel presenting a speech at an improv show in February 2019, at unknow location in San Diego, CA.

“Evaluation is effective if you hear the entire speech. Otherwise, you’re evaluating a speech the speaker didn’t give because you missed key parts while you were taking notes,” Hammel said.

Now, Hammel only takes notes on the key points the speaker lists in his/her introduction so he can monitor their chronology. That being said, evaluation is an art, not a science. Toastmasters International offers comprehensive resources to help guide speakers through the process, but don’t be afraid to try different strategies to find what works best for you.

Don’t tell someone what to do. When presenting constructive feedback, always preface your suggestion by saying, “In my opinion” or “I feel.” These statements will help the speaker feel less defensive because you’re allowing them to take your feedback with a grain of salt. 

Customize your communication style. With experience, Abudayyeh has learned to tailor his evaluation style to each individual speaker to provide them with the most effective feedback for their development. In most clubs, it’s common for advanced speakers to prefer a direct approach while newer members generally respond better to an encouraging tone. However, if you’re unsure, don’t assume. A simple question posed to the speaker about his/her preferred evaluation style will help set you and the speaker up for success.  

Speak with intention. Speakers can easily tell who took the time and effort to offer genuine and intentional feedback. They can also quickly tell who lacked attention and resorted to lazy observations. Remember, when Evaluators only share positive takeaways, they are usually doing more harm than good when it comes to the speaker’s long-term growth. 

TIPS FOR THE EVALUATEE

Once a speaker finishes presenting, he/she has a moment to step back and relax. This is the waiting period when the audience members prepare written feedback and the evaluator presents a 2-3 minute evaluation. It can be an intimidating experience at first, but the club makes a concerted effort to ensure the speaker feels supported and encouraged. At San Diego Toastmasters 7, we take pride in creating a positive experience for all members and guests that walk through our doors.

Many new members, though nervous at the start, walk away with a strong feeling of encouragement and support after presenting their first personal speeches. Members at San Diego Toastmasters 7 have even been known to follow up via email after connecting with a story and go out of their way to acknowledge newcomers. San Diego Toastmasters 7 takes pride in itself as a place where members not only talk the talk, but walk the walk when it comes to valuing the experiences of others. 

Speakers that practice humility and open themselves up to the evaluation process reap the rewards of the development and support the club offers. 

Here are some tips to help speakers successfully navigate evaluations and utilize feedback for improvement:

Take it with a grain of salt. While it’s important to review all feedback, don’t feel obligated to absorb everything. Some nights you may walk away with 50+ slips of audience feedback, which can be overwhelming. It’s important to implement your own filtering process to identify the comments that are most valuable to you.

Pay attention to trends in audience feedback and suggestions from your mentor and other trusted speakers. If you receive the same piece of feedback on numerous occasions, this may be something worthy of greater exploration. 

That said, do your best to avoid defensiveness if you disagree with your Evaluator’s feedback. Instead, ask for further clarification after the meeting. Hammel explained the evaluation process has helped him receive feedback in his personal life. Before Toastmasters, he would immediately react and become defensive when presented with constructive feedback. Now, he takes the time to assess the value of each point before responding. 

“Evaluations have made me more approachable because people aren’t afraid of correcting me,” Hammel said. 

Practice self-reflection. Most importantly, if you find yourself in the role of the speaker, be sure to take time to reflect on your speech. Some helpful questions to ask include: 

How did I feel on stage?

Did I cover all the main points? 

What parts of my speech went well? 

What areas could have gone better? 

This reflection process will help you identify the most valuable pieces of feedback that resonate with your own perspective. The more self-aware you become, the more effective you will be in your communication going forward. 

Learn from others. Don’t wait until your next speech to make improvements. You can continue to learn by watching others! Gather inspiration from speeches you enjoy and take note of the feedback they receive when creating your next speech. Long-time member and DTM Eric Linder shared his take on evaluations. 

Distinguished Toast Master Eric Linder, presenting an evaluation at a San Diego Toastmasters 7 meeting on June 13, 2019, at Normal Heights Community Center in San Diego, CA.

“I learn how to improve my presentation skills at every meeting, whether or not I have a speaking role at one. During the evaluation section of the meeting, the Evaluators provide insightful suggestions to everyone on how to fine-tune and improve presentations,” Linder said.

As effective communicators and leaders, we need constructive feedback in order to enhance personal and professional growth. Without it, you run the risk of becoming complacent and stagnant. After all, a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. Embrace your Toastmasters journey and Pathways education with an open mind and willingness to improve, and you’ll reap all the benefits it has to give you.

For further information on evaluation, Toastmasters International offers various resources including a more in-depth version of “The Art of Effective Evaluation”. Or you can reach out to the VP of Education at ckoehler@toastmasters7.org for questions.

Club Sergeant-at-Arms Role (Officer Blog Series)

*This is a weekly blog series with our Club Officers writing about their personal experience in the role they serve.

Let me tell you the many great things about being SAA! My name is Lou Weimann and I’ve served in this role for the past year.
It’s great to be able to meet n greet all current members as well as guests.  With guests, I briefly explain the meeting and how everything works prior to the start. It’s awesome to make the guests feel as comfortable as possible with a smile and warm welcome instructions so it’s not too overwhelming. As Sergeant-At-Arms, I looked forward to being one of the first people guests see as they try out our club. Anything I can do to help someone overcome that initial fear of joining, like past members did for me and be the person right at the front door to help guests with any questions and/or concerns.

Prior to the start of the meeting, the SAA has the responsibility of “setting up” the room to accommodate all members and guests. All SAAs take great pride in putting the time and work necessary to make the club look the best it can look with all the tables and seating arranged for everyone’s comfort. I felt empowered to be responsible for the set up/breakdown of the room and making sure we have enough supplies to run club meetings. It helped me build leadership skills in a way that if we run out of stuff, I’m accountable, therefore I try not let anyone down by staying on top of it.

Lastly, the SAA makes arrangement and runs our social event – Toast a Member night. This is such a great and fun responsibility because who doesn’t like celebrating the greatness of our members and organizing an event for the club to celebrate our successes.
For more information about SAA, check out this slideshow from Toastmasters International:  SAA ROLE

If this is the role for you, please contact me! saa@toastmasters7.org

About Lou Weimann:

Louis… actually only his mom calls him Louis… you can call him Lou. Lou came to San Diego to join friends and family and ditch the brutal winters of New England in 2011 and never looked back.

Lou loves story telling, ask his friends… and he also talks a lot in his business life, working for Eastridge Workforce Solutions, as a staffing sales person. It was the desire to be a more concise, confident, and intelligent… well, at least sounding intelligent speaker, were the reasons Lou joined Toastmasters 7 in November 2017.

When not at Toastmasters, Lou likes to go to the latest Comic Book (mostly Marvel, but I guess DC, too) Super Hero Movies with his big brother, Jon. Lou is also an ex-hockey player / HUGE ice hockey fan. In fact, during the hockey season from November till about April, as a local professional hockey San Diego Gulls season ticket holder, you’ll find him at the Valley View Casino Center for every GULLS home game.

Club Treasurer Role (Officer Blog Series)

*This is a weekly blog series with our Club Officers writing about their personal experience in the role they serve.

Kubitza_SDTM7

My name is Christoph Kubitza. I am San Diego Toastmasters 7’s Club Treasurer and a Distinguished Toastmaster. This is my fifth term as our club’s financial manager.

My responsibilities include:
$ Keep the club’s financial records.
$ Inform the executive committee and club members of Toastmasters 7’s financial health by submitting statements on a monthly basis.
$ Facilitate the development of the club budget based on event programming and club officers input.

I am also assisted by Immediate Past Club President, Competent Communicator and Leader, Jose Barajas, in the capacity of book keeper.

As your Club Treasurer in the past several terms, I learned (sometimes the hard way!) that maintaining good traceable records is crucial to facilitating filing of fiscal returns while helping officers develop future budgets in a timely fashion.

What is most rewarding is to see our outstanding educational and recruiting performances translate into positive financial returns that enhances our member support towards achieving their Advanced Communication and Leadership goals.

Questions about the Treasurer Role – don’t hesitate to contact me. If you’re interested, I am here to guide you through the in’s and out’s of our club’s financial management.

SDTM7

About Christoph Kubitza:

A Distinguished Toastmaster and a longtime member, Christoph joined in April 2004 after he was laid off by Rain Bird International.   He wanted to become better at organizing and presenting his ideas in staff meetings and to prepare himself for job interviews.

Currently, he’s a Warehouse 1st Shift Supervisor of Kraft Heinz San Diego food processing plant,  home of the Delimex brand of Mexican frozen food.  He’s responsible for a team of 10 Material Operators that supplies 6 production lines.

Christoph has been instrumental in the growth of San Diego Toastmasters 7 serving as a mentor to various members of the club.  He is also helping to grow another club in San Diego, Creatively Speaking Toastmasters. Christoph served as a Treasurer in the past year 2018/2019.

His hobbies are reading, movies, archery, touch rugby, and travel.

What is a Roast?

On August 23rd 2018, our Toastmasters club had a special event: A Roast of one of our most beloved members, Eric Linder.  Eric recently earned the Distinguished Toastmaster designation, also known as a DTM. The DTM is the highest level of educational achievement in Toastmasters.  Prerequisites to attain a DTM are substantial, with members generally taking 3-8 years to earn the award.  Find out more about Toastmasters International Distinguished Toastmasters program on this link => Distinguished Toastmaster.

In a way of celebrating our members who received the coveted DTM designation, our club has performed roasts to acknowledge their accomplishment by poking a little fun at them.

Did you attend Eric Linder’s Roast?

For those who have not attended a roast before, a roast is an event where someone is being honored.  The person honored is subjected to jokes at their expense.  Traditionally the roasters, the people making fun of the honoree, are the family and friends of the person being honored.  These friends and family members will start off by making jokes towards people in the crowd or their fellow roasters.  Then the jokes move to the spotlighted member and finally end on a nice note praising the highlighted member.

Unfortunately for Eric he doesn’t have any friends (this is an example of a roast joke)!  A call was made out to members in the Toastmaster club to help roast him while celebrating his accomplishments.

Here’s how the roast went down!

The Roastmaster (also known as the MC of the evening) was Bob Dietrich.  Bob is an accomplished speaker who has also achieved his DTM.  He did the best he could to keep the roast on schedule and full of laughs. Unfortunately Bob is just not very funny, so he failed at the 2nd part!

The roasters of the evening were: Shadi Abudayyeh, Matt Mounier, Diane Horton, Sue Linder (Eric’s sister!), Antonio Garcia,  Sureal Sparx, Yesica Vazquez, Dave Zarella, Chris Hammell, and finally, Eric Linder himself.  Some of the roasters were incredibly hilarious (such as reigning club’s funniest member Shadi Abudayyeh) and some of the roasters were, to put it mildly, not funny (Yesica Vazquez).  Many of the jokes at these events are quite rude, risqué, and unbecoming of me listing them here, so I’ve taken the liberty of including some not as adult jokes here that received laughs.

I’m not saying that Antonio has a big forehead, I’m just saying it was a stunt double in the movie Three Billboards.”

 

There’s an old saying that says nice people can’t be funny. Tonight, Diane Horton will prove that.”

 

Matt likes to call himself the Mortgage Millennial, which explains why everyone hates him.”

 

#notmypresident”

Lou Weimann, our Club’s Sergeant-At-Arms commented on his experience of attending this roast:

“There are so many benefits to being a member of Toastmasters 7. One benefit I never knew about was the comradeship the group members share which leads to hilarious events like this ROAST. I never thought I could laugh so hard and almost piss my pants countless times. The jokes were so funny and I am so glad I didn’t miss this event. As if I needed any additional positive reinforcement for joining Toastmasters 7 months ago… but this ROAST is that additional awesomeness. Thank you, Eric Linder, for being a great person, a great sport and most importantly a great mentor to us all! “

Video credit to Bob Dietrich

 

Check out these photos from the Roast by our awesome photographer, Antonio Garcia – Access only available to SDTM7 members:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1bEiLzzkaJo0Mjy95SLk58OnQIwK5LQr2

 

Written by Shadi Abudayyeh, Club President, CC/CL.  Check out his bio on our Meet Our Club Officers page.
Our club meetings are held every Thursdays (also last Tuesdays of the month). 6:30pm to 8pm in Normal Heights Community Center.
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