I stuck to the guidelines and delivered within the allotted time.
Recently, I joined my Toastmasters Club’s Evaluation Contest. We had a ‘surprise’ test speaker (no one knew who was going to be the speaker until announced) and all evaluators would listen to him speak before being placed in a ‘holding room’ on the Zoom meeting.
After the speech, we were given five minutes to organize our evaluation. In our past contest which was a physical meeting at a venue, the evaluators were given 5 minutes to organize our feedback on a piece of paper.
By prior balloting, the first speaker would enter the room to deliver his presentation while the rest of the evaluators had their written notes kept away until the next speaker is called.
The advantage of the last speaker is that he or she has time to mull over what he wants to say but has no chance of listening to how the rest evaluate before him. The first speaker has the challenge of performing almost off the cuff without the leeway to go over his points that other speakers would have.
Anyway, it was a test of one’s mettle and spontaneity.
Every evaluator was given up to a maximum of three minutes, during which the flashed green card would signal 1 minute had passed, 2 minutes at the amber card, 3 minutes at red, during which the evaluator must wrap up his speech or he would be disqualified after 30seconds passed when the buzz sound.
It was quite amusing. In the holding room, the Sergeant at arms(member in charge of logistics) would make sure our hands were visible and our eyes looked forward to prevent us from glancing at our written papers.
In my head, I knew the scoring system. Toastmasters Evaluation Contest requires the following Judging items; Analytical Quality to be about 40 points, recommendations 30 points, Technique 15 points, and Summation 15 points. The specific range of values was given under each category labeled from fair, good, very good to excellent.
As I evaluated the speaker and elaborated under the judging items, the 5 judges were scoring each evaluator on their performance by imparting a value to the category mentioned.
The test speaker spoke on “ My Leadership journey since my re-employment.
As I was the last speaker, I had no idea how the rest gave their feedback.
I thought the easiest and logical manner was to go by the judging items.
I began by praising the speaker for his honesty and humility to share a heartfelt story on his retrenchment and getting back into employment.
Under analytical quality, I commented that his topic was very current with recession already rearing its ugly head and it was a positive speech as it showed his comeback to a new post and he had put in his best to become a trainer to much younger colleagues.
He showed that he had a good command of the English Language, speaking simply and directly, occasionally employing rhetorical devices like alliteration, pun, and metaphor. That made his speech very interesting to listen to. He also injected humor when he said that he tried to make miniature of his junior colleagues, a self-effacing phrase to play on his much bigger size.
He was obviously a confident speaker, with no signs of nervousness and he spoke at a comfortable rate and volume with a gentle disposition.
His technique was the storytelling method which was effective as most people like to listen to stories and he had from the beginning launched into how he was retrenched and became re-employed through a stroke of good luck.
In the body of his speech, he related interesting experiences and lessons learned in the new environment with younger colleagues and how he was inspired by his boss handling of office matters.
Recommendations are mandatory in an evaluation speech so I advised three things:
1 wrong spelling of a word – intricacies instead of ‘intricacities’ and recommended prior check of uncertain words
2 As his delivery time taken was 5 minutes 48 seconds instead of 7 minutes 30 seconds, he could have gone into more details to contrast his leadership style with his boss’s which he admired.
The extra time could also be used to summarize the points mentioned so that the conclusion was more complete.
3 To dress more smartly in office attire though we meet on zoom more frequently these days to maintain a more formal ambiance.
In my summation, I praised the speaker again for his sincerity in sharing his experiences. I reminded him that he could bring his speech and delivery to a higher level as he was already an articulate person. I thanked him for the effort he placed in his speech preparation.
I was surprised to be awarded the best evaluator for this contest. Evaluation is a very important skill to develop as it allows one to be more discerning of a speaker’s strong and weak points. Hence, we could also adopt these ideas into our own speeches.