A speech evaluation contest is a good checkpoint in terms of skills acquired being an evaluator. At a club level one should have sufficient experience delivering speeches before taking on the role of evaluator. The chief reason being that the evaluations we receive over time will give us an idea of what bad, average, good and great evaluations feel like. Feel is the operative word because it is a part of the experience new Toastmasters feel most when they first receive an evaluation.
I poured through a few articles to give me a low down on the basics of evaluating at an evaluation contest, with the final article giving details of evaluation contest rules as to how they pertained in 2014.
There are various opinions about whitewash evaluations and there are extremists who are toastaliban and eschew “honesty” as being what the member “really paid for” – and there is the happy place people who believe that anything remotely negative is a fall from grace – and both operate from a value system. The objective place in the middle is where the diplomat is, an evidence based approach which is still an opinion but one supported with tact and evidence that one can communicate “growth points”.
I am reviewing different folks opinions about the whitewash experience and pouring over their opinion. In many cases there is a lot which is agreeable but it all depends on having an open mind rather than an entrenched value system. The best context is focusing on how to give a great evaluation and then let whitewashing be an alert as a part of the total system of evaluations – rather than a focal piece which is a stand-alone concern.
Andrew Dlugan created a 5 part series at his “Six Minutes” blog, which he called THE SPEECH ANALYSIS SERIES. His 5 Blogs were:
He demonstrates that there is no single right answer or way to evaluate a speech, that we must each find the best method that fits our own style. To discover that requires us to study what we can about different evaluation styles – but it is insufficient in trying to emulate or copy another evaluator.
What is far more necessary is our own eyes and ears. To develop an evolving nous for continuous learning – which means the work required to be an evaluator is a perpetual and on-going craft. The more we get directly involved in the practice of evaluating, the more nous and maturity we develop in this craft – and evaluating is a craft.
The central part of the speech evaluation relationship is listening. Developing listening skills is the first order of business, because this serves as the foundation stone on which all other evaluation skills rest. Furthermore listening is the core part of the relationship with the speaker. From here the relationship between speaker and evaluator and evaluator and speaker, is a continuous improvement loop. The very act of evaluation teaches a speaker what is important, just as the act of delivering a speech is practice makes permanent unless evaluations leads us to another level of excellence. Evaluations serves the process of learning, speaking serves the process of unlearning and relearning.