Evaluate? Evaluate. Evaluate!

Originally published By Rodney Denno, DTM

“If I could give one piece of advice to members, it would be this: Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.”


-- Presiyan Vasilev, 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking

When he first started as a member, Vasilev focused primarily on evaluations, not speeches. This way, he says, he could help others improve while also establishing for himself a strong foundation of speaking skills. Evaluating other members' speeches, notes Vasilev, gives you insight into what works and what doesn’t.

-- page 15, November, 2013, Toastmaster magazine

When I joined Toastmasters seven years ago I was introduced to the SANDWICH evaluation technique (say something nice, point out something that could be improved, say something nice). It occurred to me that this was not really a way of evaluating a speech - it was really about blunting the blow to the speakers ego by sandwiching a point-for-improvement between two positive points.

Like many Toastmasters I've met, I did not question this way of performing a speech evaluation until I encountered a situation that showed me the real value of evaluations – accelerating my development in crafting speeches and in their delivery.

My ah-ha moment came in March 2011 when I entered the International Speech Evaluation Contest and was able to win club, area and pision contests and compete against the other top nine speakers in British Columbia.

I had recently joined a club that specializes in speech evaluations -- Advanced Aurators. The feedback I received at the club level and all the additional feedback from competing in the Area, Division and District contests really transformed my speech and me as a speaker.

I was intrigued! Wanting to deepen my understanding of speech evaluations – and accelerate my development as a speaker – I started searching online. What I found was both helpful and disappointing. Helpful because I found some evaluation techniques that hinted at how to focus on certain aspects of a speakers speech and its delivery. Disappointed because I did not find any comprehensive resource that showed how to use speech evaluations to accelerate speaker development.

Knowing that there was real power in giving and receiving insightful and actionable speech evaluations I decided to compile my research into a book and give it away for free – as my contribution back to the world of speaker development.

In the two years since the Evaluation Maven Manifesto 2.0 has been available online – along with nine different evaluation techniques and an article on how to win the Toastmasters Speech Evaluation contest – they have collectively been downloaded almost 10,000 times.

You can download them here.

Why would you want to do this?

Other than accelerating your own development as a speaker and writer, here are a few more reasons:

  • Learn the real value of Evaluations - for You, the Speaker and the Audience
  • Learn to appreciate the vast tapestry of elements to evaluate
  • Learn the Three Level of Listening and how to Actively Listen at Level Three
  • Learn how to construct a Superb Speech Evaluation
  • Learn when to most effectively use each evaluation technique
  • Learn how to effectively conduct Team Evaluations
  • Learn how to self evaluate using Audio and Video technology
  • Learn effective strategies for winning Speech Evaluation contests
  • Learn the four types of speech structures and how to evaluate them

Given the large and positive response to the Evaluation Maven Manifesto 2.0 it is evident that there is a real and significant desire in many Toastmasters to have tools and techniques that help them become better communicators – by becoming better evaluators!

Since my own journey to the District level of the 2011 International Speech competition – supported by lots of insightful and actionable speech evaluation feedback – I've come to see that --- Evaluation is to speaker development as location is to real estate.

All the best in your Toastmasters journey!d96