What do evaluations mean in Toastmasters?


How do you feel when you hear that word?

Is being evaluated a scary thought?

It’s easy to confuse ‘evaluation’ with ‘criticism’. Having a friendly person giving an encouraging evaluation is like being led by the hand. Most people are nervous about public speaking. In Toastmasters, evaluation is at the core of almost everything that we do. After my very first speech at Worthing Speakers’ Club, the evaluator told me that my hand gestures made my speech clearer and more interesting. I had never thought about that; my hands were sort of just living their own lives, while my focus was on my words. Having heard that, I am now learning how to become more intentional with my hand gestures.

An evaluation is more than giving an opinion. Consider this example:

I have been heard to express opinions about how the shortest queue at the supermarket more often than not turns out to be the slowest one. If, on the other hand, I were to evaluate supermarket queuing systems, I would look at what works well, what could be enhanced, and what needs changing altogether. What works well? The fairness in being served in the order you arrive at the tills (as opposed to letting for example those with the biggest feet or funniest accents go first). What could be enhanced? There could be a system where everyone queues at the same place and is sent to the next available till. What needs changing altogether? Stubborn trollies that get stuck.

A good evaluation is empowering with the main purpose being to encourage and develop. In our Speakers’ Club, evaluation helps sharpen speaking tools. There have been times when I have disagreed with speech evaluations, and other times when different evaluators have expressed opposing views. Should I move around more on the stage or am I moving around too much? I must take the evaluations onboard, but still do what is comfortable for me. No one in Toastmasters is pushing you to do anything that is beyond you, but we are there to help each other develop and excel with the unique skillset that you have in you. Come for a visit and see for yourself.


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