Friday, July 16, 2010

Advanced Evaluations Part 1

I LOVE TOASTMASTERS (TM). With that said there are quite a few area's where I think TM could strenghten their educational program. One of those areas would be in the evaluation of advanced speakers. To paraphrase Patricia Fripp: Who said the following during the Edge Summit in March 2010. The true measure of a Toastmasters club is in the quality of the feedback it gives. Craig Valentine 1999 WCPS said: Most People want Validation, not Education. Here are some observations if have noticed during my 15 years as a Toastmaster. Speeches in most TM clubs range from 5 to 15 minutes. But no matter how long the speech may be the time limit for evaluations of those speeches remains 1-2 minutes. Wouldn't it make more sense to make adjustments in the evaluation time as well. The majority of our evaluators learned their skills mostly by observation of other evaluators. One of the problems with this method is in the inconsistancy of advice given. Other than saying use the Sandwich Method (give a positive statement of what the speaker did will, then an improvement suggestion, another positive you did good statement) there is no other standard or training available. This inconsistancy leads to confusion and bad habits for the speaker and or the evaluator that has to be unlearned at some future date. Over 95% of evaluations delivered in todays Toasmasters club are about validation of what the speaker has done well with very little value in the how to improve the speech.(Example) Your vocal variety & gestures were great. I really like them. I can't think of any thing you can do to improve at this time! Humm!! Were we looking at the same speech? But hold everything, we have not trained them on what to look for. How can an evaluator, give suggestions on something they know nothing about. Yes new speakers and evaluators will not have those skills needed to make useful and qualified suggestions. But once you start to progress to advanced speaking we need to have the skills to know what to look for. I dare not count how many times I have heard "You didn't open your speech with ""Mr/Ms Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Guests"". YIKES!! Did I just hear what that evaluator just said?? Once you step out of Toastmasters you never hear Obama, MLK, or JFK start off a speech with the above mentioned statement. They usually enguage their audience first then use some type of recognition statement once the audience is enguated. In fact in the book "Say it like Obama" the author tells a story where Michelle Obama told her husband to stop speaking from his head and start speaking more from his heart". I firmly believe that after completing the CC (Competent Communicator Manual). We should be working on specific advanced skills for both speakers and evaluators. Everyone is willing to give their opinion about what a speaker should do but not everyone is qualified to. Speakers should take all advice and sincerely anaylze it before implementing changes. An advantage in the Toastmasters world of having evaluators with advanced skills would be in consistency that speaker would recieve when they were evaluated. Not only would evaluations themselves improve. But the quality of judging Toastmaster speech contests would be more consistant also. With consistency will come fairness and maybe even a more highly competitive speech contest. For if we truly are going to have 9 people compete in the TM finals shouldn't they be the best we have in that given year. Better evaluations = better speakers, better evalation skills = more consistant judging skills. Samuel Johnson said: Advice is seldon welcome. Those to need it the most like it the least.