Sunday, January 18, 2009


(excerpts from District 26 Toastmasters, serving Colorado, Wyoming, and W. Nebraska)

The benefits to club members:
1. Forces members to step beyond their comfort zone.
2. Offers a forum to speak outside of the club.
3. Provides members with an opportunity to test their skill against others.
4. Injects a large dose of pride and confidence in contestants.
5. Illustrates that there's more to Toastmasters than the weekly meeting.

The benefits to the club:
1. Creates an opportunity to invite outside guests.
2. Increases membership when guests enjoy the event.
3. Helps current members set goals and rejuvenate their enthusiasm.
4. Providers a unique leadership opportunity to run the contest.
5. Contributes to attaining "Distinguished Club" status.

How to Conduct Better Evaluations

The trademark of an Toastmasters meeting is that each speech is formally evaluated by another member of the club. The scheduled evaluator typically has only 10 minutes or so to prepare an effective evaluation, and that is a 3 minute mini-speech in itself. In terms of speaking, the evaluation is the step between Table Topics and a prepared speech.

With the Evaluation Contest coming up, here are some tips from District 26 Toastmasters,  in Colorado, on how to make your evaluation more fluent and inspiring.

1. Contact the presenter and review your manual prior to the meeting so that you are familiar with the objective of the speech.

2. Have the philosophy that every speech can be improved, no matter how good it is. It does not help advanced speakers to hear, "that was great". Challenge yourself to come up with at least one suggestion.

3. Plan to make 3 to 5 positive comments to balance each suggestion for improvement.

4. Don't overwhelm novice speakers with advice. Limit your suggestions to 3 things or less, and focus on the biggest problems.

5. It's good to use concrete examples form the speech, but don't recap the whole thing. You too must work within your time limit.

6. Always preface your comments with "in my opinion" or "I suggest that" to acknowledge that others might not share your viewpoint.

7. Don't read from the Toastmasters manual. You are going to hand them the checklist in the book, so reading it to them is not the best use of your time.

8. Conclude your evaluation with a summary of your suggestions, and then follow with the positive comments. A humourous statement, or insight to end is fun.

Evaluations give you an exciting opportunity to help shape the future skill of an associate speaker. Don't take this task lightly.