Sunday, April 27, 2008

Learning to Like Evaluation

In Toastmasters, the philosophy is that no speech is perfect – even the best speaker can improve. As a result, there is a lot of feedback going on. Members evaluate each others’ presentations – even brief Table Topic responses, which only last two minutes. In Toastmasters, we always offer suggestions for improvement. If all you got was praise for your speech, how would you improve? If you truly want to improve your skills, you must learn to give and receive helpful evaluations. Here’s how that works in Toastmasters:

-Keep in mind that evaluations are by nature subjective. They are opinions. But when many people offer the same opinion, you’d be wise to listen.
-Toastmasters evaluations are constructive, meaning they tactfully offer suggestions for how your next speech can be better. Our “sandwich approach” uses an encouraging comment, a suggestion for improvement, and ends with another encouraging comment. The speech topic itself is not evaluated, but the structure and delivery of it is.
-They also are kind, keeping in mind the experience and sensitivity level of the speaker.
-Most importantly, Toastmasters evaluations are practical, making your feel good about your contribution to the meeting but also addressing specific challenges to work on for the next speech.

Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Why don’t you do what millions of novice and nervous speakers have done: Visit a Toastmasters meeting!
Yours in Toastmasters,
VPE Norman Chin

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