Introduction to Evaluation

 The following notes give a point by point explanation of how to evaluate a prepared manual speech. The general principles, however, can be applied to Table Topics Evaluations and the General Evaluator.

For more information on performing an evaluation, refer to the "Effective Speech Evaluation" manual that comes with your New Member Kit. 

1.       What is Evaluation ?

It is a critical appraisal of a speaker and their speech aimed at telling the speaker how "they came across". It is like a mirror – an honest reflection designed to improve the speaker's technique.

2.       How do we Evaluate ?

First we must understand what the speaker is doing. What is the assignment? What is its purpose?

To answer these questions, we must prepare ourselves:

  • contact the speaker
  • ask if they want specific advice
  • study the speech requirements in the manual
  • look back over previous assignments noting comments and progress made

When the speaker commences, look at them, listen and be ready for your first reaction:

  • what is the story?
  • where is it leading to?
  • did the opening get your attention?

When you are sure that you can "hear" the speech coming across, jot down notes of important points about the speech. Divide a piece of paper in half. On the left record the main points so that you can review the speech outline at the end. On the right, record your reactions:

            poor opening – good word pictures – soft voice – no hands – look up etc.

These notes should be your reaction as the speech progresses. But because you are both listening and writing and thinking you must concentrate. Evaluation is hard work.

Try to analyse the speech:

  • what did they say?
  • how did they say it?
  • did they look as though they meant it?
  • did you get the message?

3.       What to Say

Talk to everyone in the room and not just to the speaker. Start with some praise. No matter how poor the speech was, there must be something which in relation to this speaker was done well and better than last time. Say so. We all need encouragement. Now give the mirror treatment. Briefly tell how they came across. "The opening was good, I became interested immediately. I would suggest though that those few lines should be rehearsed more so that it can be delivered without looking at notes…."

Praise the good points (others want to be aware of them also). Mention up to two suggestions. Finish with a thoughtful piece of encouragement, even just "he was nervous but we all suffer from that complaint. I am sure we all look forward to watching your progress". Never conclude with "Overall a good speech".

Be logical in presenting your evaluation, don't jump about. It is a speaking assignment for the evaluator also, and requires your best performance.

4.       What to Write

Now you have more time, so choose your words carefully so that they really express your reactions. It is the written comments which will remain as a record of progress. Relate your comments to the specific requirements in the manual. If the speaker has a special problem, discuss it with them after the meeting.

5.       Hints for Improving Your Evaluation ?

            Be fair and honest. Don't "whitewash". Nobody gains by not telling the truth.

  • Adjust the evaluation depending on the speaker's experience level. A new member requires sympathetic understanding and encouragement. An experienced speaker needs hard searching comments.
  • Everybody learns from listening, both to the speech and to the evaluation of it.
  • Don't apologise for your inexperience as an evaluator. We all must start somewhere and very frequently a beginner will notice something different.
  • Don't retell the story in the evaluation.
  • Don't give your evaluation from the questions in the manual. Use separate notes or speak from memory.

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