The Art of Effective Evaluation

This is largely based on a TM module that underscores part of the Toastmaster Mission: To provide a supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual member has the opportunity to develop oral communication skill.

Opportunity comes when grows are tactfully, but insightfully and honestly given. The evaluator is to be a motivator, encouraging the speaker in a way he or she wants to change. Also, the evaluator is a facilitator, enabling learning with specific details. Finally, the evaluator is a counselor, especially in the case of a new speaker, with mentoring and even cheerleading.

Esteem is a big issue. If self-esteem or the feeling of self-worth is good, a speaker can take risks and feel challenged more than threatened or defensive. But a speaker may be in a fragile, vulnerable state. One way the evaluator can adapt is by directing comments to the whole club but using third person and not addressing the speaker directly. The speaker is referred to as “he” or “she” or “the speaker.”


There are 10 behaviors of the effective evaluator:


  • 1- Show you care by giving grows and glows;
  • 2- Suit the evaluation to the speaker by finding the speaker’s goals for the speech by email or even a few minutes before delivery;
  • 3- Know the objectives for the specific project;
  • 4- Listen actively and take good notes on what picture was painted, how objectives were met. These notes may best be taken separate from the manual sheet and coded with (-) for growth and (+) for what did well.
  • 5- Personalize with language, as “my reaction,” “it appeared to me,” “I suggest,” “I felt…” Avoid “should” but use “could.”
  • 6- Use positive reinforcement as by starting with appreciation and giving nurturing;
  • 7-Build a motivational climate so that the speaker can realize his or her potential;
  • 8- Evaluate behavior and presentation and not the person or personality;
  • 9- Nourish self-esteem as by giving an overall positive response;
  • 10- Show speaker how to improve with a focus on what was done and by giving 1-2 specific grows to apply to the next speech.


Practical Applications of the Evaluation:


Jennifer Bauer, the 2015 evaluation contest winner at the division level, says she does not speak based on just the questions the manual raises. She focuses during the speech on getting her verbal evaluation notes together and then uses what time she has available during table topics or the other evaluations to fill out the manual. She does try to mention the key things from her verbal evaluation somewhere in the written. She also saves some areas of praise for the manual that she doesn’t feel need to be mentioned during the short time of the verbal evaluation. She concludes, “I’m usually rushing to finish the written evaluation because I do like to be thorough, but usually the speakers don’t mind waiting a minute or two while I finish after the meeting if I need to.”


One common method for the verbal evaluation is to use the sandwich method, which has a glow, then a grow, and then a glow.

All Toastmasters are on a journey, and all can help and be helped along the way by closely observing what works and being open to revising and trying new pathways.  Along the way, not all suggestions from others are good ones, but some feedback can be very helpful.