The more effective we are in evaluating each other, the more each one of us will profit from the experience, whether we are delivering a speech, evaluating, or sitting in the audience. For as audience members, we learn from the good example an effective evaluation presents. As evaluators, we learn to sharpen our listening and impromptu speaking skills. And as speakers, effective evaluations benefit us by:
- Providing immediate feedback.
- Supportive commentary and helpful suggestions reinforce positive speaking behaviours as well as assist in focusing on areas that need work.
- Offering methods for improvement. An evaluator can offer a new perspective. This perspective will allow the presenter to recognise and then solve any difficulties within the presentation.
- Building and maintaining self-esteem. As the presenter's speaking improves from speech to speech, more self-esteem will be gained.
Using the "tell and sell" approach requires the evaluator to do all the talking while the speaker listens. It makes the meeting efficient, leaving no time for conversational digression. Also, the speaker to focus on what is being said. New members should not evaluate until they have conducted several speeches. To evaluate effectively, there are five basic points to remember:
1. Before the speech, review and discuss the manual objectives and evaluation guidelines. Ask about any concerns regarding the speech or the speaker's speaking ability.
2. Demonstrate that you are truly interested in the speech. Exhibit your interest in the speaker's ability to grow and improve.
3. Personalize your language. Put yourself in the position of the speaker before giving your evaluation. Stay away from words like "You didn't..." or "You should have..." or "You failed to..." and instead stimulate improvement, by using words like: "I believe..." or "My reaction was..." or "I suggest that..." Keep the evaluator's mantra in mind to maximize your skills: What I saw - What I heard - What I felt.
4. Evaluate the speech – not the person. Always keep your main purpose in mind to support, help, and encourage the speaker. Pay attention to the speaker's goals for self-improvement. Watch for symptoms of fear or insecurity. Evaluate what the speaker does – not what the speaker is.
5. Promote self-esteem. Encourage and inspire the speaker to participate again by giving honest and sincere praise, positive reinforcement when improvements occur and helpful direction when necessary.
End your evaluation positively. An evaluator can give evaluations that only praise the speaker. This may be flattering at first, but over time will demoralise the atmosphere of a club. Honest evaluations can and should be upbeat and encouraging, while still pointing out areas for improvement. Avoid covering up flaws for adulation. In your conclusion, connect to your opening statement, summarise your key points and encourage your listeners to apply what they heard and learned.