A Step-by-Step Approach to Speech Evaluation

Being able to give an effective speech evaluation is one of the cornerstones of the Toastmasters programme.

By Kim Chamberlain, 2002 District 72 Evaluation Champion

How can you give better evaluations?

Try this six-step approach.

Step 1 – Understanding the Fundamentals of an Evaluation

There are two fundamentals to bear in mind when you are giving an evaluation.

Firstly, imagine the person you are evaluating has been asked to give the same speech again in the near future.

    • What can you say to help them do it better next time round?
    • What aspects worked well and should be kept, and what could be improved on?

And secondly, evaluations are given to help both the speaker and all other club members. By giving feedback, you are one of the ‘teachers’ for the meeting, and are helping members improve their speaking skills.

To support this, try to expand some of your commendations or recommendations into a mini-educational to get your point across to the whole audience.

Step 2 – Before the Speech

Discuss the speech with the speaker beforehand. You can start the evaluation process at this stage by finding out what they plan to work on, and offering advice.

Read the speech assignment and find out the manual goals, and the speaker’s personal goals (if any).

Write these goals down on a sheet of paper (your Evaluation Sheet), which you will use at the meeting. Write them on a single piece of paper, one underneath the other.

Step 3 – During the Speech

You are looking to see if the speaker met their goals. If they did: why? if not: why not, and how can it be improved? Using your Evaluation Sheet, listen to the speech and write C for Commendation or R for Recommendation against the goals listed (you may not have time to cover them all), plus any notes or comments. At the end of the speech determine which Commendations and Recommendations would most help the speaker move on, and only concentrate on these in your feedback. Choose the most important and helpful issues to comment on.

Step 4 – Giving the Evaluation

Use the C-R-C Method

    • Give one or two Commendations
    • Then one or two Recommendations
    • Then a final Commendation
An Evaluation Formula
    • An evaluation is a mini speech. It has an Opening, a Body and an Ending. The opening is an introduction to the evaluation, for example, setting the scene. The ending is a summary of the main points you have made, and the body is where you concentrate on the commendations and recommendations.
    • Commendations have 2 components: State an issue that went well, eg speech structure, explain why it worked.
    • Recommendations have 3 components: State an issue that could be improved on, eg use of notes Explain why it didn’t work, Make a suggestion for how it could be improved.

So written as a formula, this is what the evaluation will look like:

Part of speechTimeComponent
Opening30 secondsIntroduction
Commendation = Issue + Why
Body 1.5 minutesRecommendation = Issue + Why + How
Commendation = Issue + Why
Conclusion 30 secondsSummary
Step 5 – After the Speech

Fill in the manual. Give it back to the speaker!

Offer discussion with them for further feedback

Step 6 – On a Regular Basis

Build up a bank of suggestions you can use in evaluations. Make a list of issues that may arise in people’s speeches, eg variety of voice, speech structure, use of notes, and write down suggestions for improvement. Keep adding to the list, so that as issues crop up in speeches you are already prepared.

And finally, remember that the better you become at evaluations, the more you learn what goes into making a good speech, and the more you learn how to improve your own speaking.

10 Steps to Becoming an Evaluation Champion
    1. Watch and learn from evaluating the top speakers (video tapes, audio tapes, in person).
    2. Follow the CRC formula above to structure your speech:
    3. Practise the timing and know what you can do within the timing allowed.
    4. Think about what you are doing:
    5. Learn from others
    6. Build a bank of Commendations and Recommendations. Use unique ideas to explain what you mean.
    7. Have confidence in yourself and a likable approach to the audience.
    8. Know the Contest Rules. Read the Judges Sheet and know the judging criteria (see below). Help the judges give you marks by signposting your speech.
    9. Self-promotion:
    10. If you have followed steps 1-9 above, you will deliver a well prepared, confident, focussed winning evaluation!
Judging Criteria for Evaluation Contests

1. Analytical Quality (40 points) – clear, focussed

Analytical Quality refers to the effectiveness of the evaluation. Every evaluation should carefully analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the speaker’s presentation. Were your comments clear and logical? Did you identify specific strengths and weaknesses of the presentation?

2. Recommendations (30 points) – positive, specific, helpful

Point out the strengths and weaknesses of the speech, and offer specific recommendations for improvement. Recommendations should be practical, helpful and positive, and they should enable the speaker to improve next time.

3. Technique (15 points) – sympathetic, sensitive, motivational

Technique refers to the manner in which you present your comments and recommendations. You should be sensitive to the feelings and needs of the speaker, yet inspire and encourage the speaker in his or her future speaking efforts.

4. Summation (15 points) – concise, encouraging

This is how you conclude the evaluation. You should briefly summarise your comments and suggestions, and be positive and encouraging.