Hot Feedback to Warm the Heart

Delivered on 12/1/17 in Stuart, FL
Delivered on 12/4/17 in Dallas, TX


Hot Feedback Handout

Hot Feedback Slideshow

Toastmaster International's Successful Club Series is a set of presentations about the QUALITY of club meetings. Each speech from this set details skills and standards useful in making our club successful.

When you deliver a prepared speech, you want effective feedback so you can improve. If we all learn to be better evaluators, our whole club will benefit.

Dalmo has picked up some evaluation skills by competing in contests, observing seasoned toastmasters, and lots of practice. Today he will put his own spin on the "Evaluate to Motivate" speech outlined in the Successful Club Series.

Good evening! Mister Toastmaster, fellow members, and guests. Before I started preparing for this speech on evaluations, I decided to do some research. And by research I mean google.

As you can see, evaluations are clearly important stuff. Toastmasters would not be toastmasters if we didn’t do evaluations. So it makes sense that to be a successful club, we should all know how to give an effective evaluation. Would you agree?

Show of hands: how many of you have never done a speech evaluation, raise your hands? Keep your hands up. How many of you have done only 1 speech evaluation so far? My goal is that after this speech, you’ll be inspired to evaluate more.

Put your hands down. Now raise your hand if you’re confident you know what a good evaluation looks like. Don’t be shy, I know some of you are excellent evaluators. These are the people who have inspired me to learn and develop my evaluation skills.

I hope everyone learns at least one new thing today. Here’s what I want to share with you: the 3 elements of a GOOD evaluation; how to get ready; some effective formats; and finally some personal tips. If you’re ready say: I’M READY!

An effective evaluation will help the speaker in 3 ways.

It provides immediate, specific feedback. Somebody say feedback. That’s exactly what the word says. You take the elements of the speech and you feed them right back to the speaker. You observe what you’re given, then you give back your observations.

Second, good evaluations offer methods for improvement. Somebody say improvement! We’re all here to improve, right? Is there anyone who gives speeches just to show off? No! We want to get better.

Finally, a great evaluation builds self-esteem. We encourage each other. We want this to be a safe space for growth. That’s our culture. And evaluations have to motivate the speaker to keep speaking.

Those are the 3 ingredients (let’s say it all together): feedback, improvement, and self-esteem.

It seems easy, but let me tell you… if you forget even ONE of these 3, your evaluation will not be effective. Let me give you some examples, and see if you’ve seen evaluations like this before.

Play by Play: A recap and regurgitation of the whole speech, as if we didn’t just hear the whole thing a few minutes ago

  • You started with a quote
  • You used big gestures
  • You paced around a lot
  • You met your objectives

Smoke up the Skirt: Lots of praise but very little substance

  • That was a wonderful speech, thank you!
  • Your opening was great, excellent eye contact, powerful metaphors
  • You’re such a seasoned speaker, I can’t think of anything to do differently.
  • Looking forward to more just like this one.

Professor Robot: very nitpicky, no regard for how the speaker feels

  • Let’s see… you leaned on the lectern. Don’t do that.
  • Your gestures stayed below the belt, and you should change that.
  • Your structure was okay, but it got very confusing at the end.
  • And… that’s it.

Vague and Generic: no details, no specifics,

  • Great speech!
  • I really liked it. It was one of the best I’ve heard.
  • It just wasn’t very funny. Maybe it could be funnier.
  • Again, great speech!

The dream evaluation really needs the 3 components: feedback, improvement, and self-esteem--all together. Just be careful: don’t let your dream evaluation turn into the timer’s nightmare.

How do you make sure you include all three? One way is to follow a format or template.

  • 3-2-1 approach: we use this often here
  • Sandwich method: we use this often here
  • Sensory method: great way to give the speaker some perspective
  • Contest format: my personal favorite

Notice what’s not up here: reading the questions and answers from the written evaluation. To me, that’s like phoning it in. Your evaluation should be a short speech, not just reading the written feedback you had.

Before I close, let me leave you with some practical tips.

Keep up a high energy when you’re analyzing the speech, whether you’re pointing out positive points or constructive feedback. Here’s something I hear a lot: “____________, your vocal variety really held our attention, BUT you paced around a little and it was kinda distracting...“ Notice that break in the thought with the BUT and how I trailed off, lowered my energy, and started to mumble a little.

Instead, let’s try this. “____________, you really held my attention with your vocal variety. You also distracted me with the constant pacing. Staying in one place would’ve made it easier for me to give you my full attention.” Balanced, confident energy all the way through.

Another tip has to do with the language you use. Remember that evaluations are your opinions, and your words matter. You add much more value by describing your perspective instead of dictating what the speaker should have done.

It’s also important to tell the speaker why. It’s easy to list off things the speaker did and thinks the speaker didn’t do. But it takes some thought to articulate the reason for pointing things out. “____________, when you told that joke, everybody laughed but you didn’t give them time to laugh. You kept on speaking.” That’s a good observation, but don’t stop there. “____________, I mention this because when you keep talking while the audience laughs, they start to laugh less and less because they’re afraid of missing something.” That’s some powerful insight.

Finally, some personal style tips.

  • Toastmasters recommends summarizing your points. I personally don’t do that because in a 2 to 3 minute speech, I don’t want to waste time repeating something you heard 30 seconds ago. Instead, I end with a summation that ties it all together: one sentence that describes the speech.
  • Toastmasters also recommends evaluating the speech and not the person. And I agree with that. Which do you think you’d wanna hear: “your speech lacked vocal variety” or “you are monotone and bad a varying your voice”? With that said, after a few speeches, we get to know each other as people. And there’s some value in pointing out progress (“Your eye contact this time was way better than last time”) or blind spots (“your go-to crutch word is so”). In that sense, there’s room to evaluate the person.
  • Last by not least: adapt! And evaluation to a seasoned speaker should be different from one for an icebreaker. Evaluating a friend, a coworker, someone who just delivered a sensitive/emotional speech… these all call for different styles, so don’t be afraid to adapt.

If you learned at least one thing today raise your hand! Thank you!