HOW TO! – Fulfil the role of Toastmaster

Review the grid and contact those on this by email immediately following the previous meeting to ascertain they are still able to undertake their role and if anyone on the programme drops out, work with the VPE to obtain a replacement. Check by telephone over the weekend immediately prior to your evening and get the speech titles and relevant information to assist with your introductions. Print sufficient programmes and also the evaluation/voting paper ready for the meeting. Prepare a script so that you include all necessary areas, i.e. asking the timekeeper to explain the lights, when to call for timekeepers report, calling for voting etc.

Run the various sections to time working with the timekeeper. Illness of any participant on the night is unavoidable; this is your time to shine and to keep things moving to time, perhaps by including a role not on the programme.

For speakers, ask the Evaluators to give the objectives and the timing for the relevant speech.

Give your introduction and finish saying, “With a Speech Entitled (title) Please Welcome …..(name)” Remember always state the name LAST.

Always remember to shake hands as participants arrive at the stage and as they finish and leave.

Prior to speeches and evaluations, split the room and request each group to complete a Speech Feedback sheet for a particular speaker/evaluator. Allow one minute for this. If time is tight, allow one minute after all speeches have been concluded and the same for evaluators.

Following speeches and evaluations call for timings and ask members to cast their vote for Best Speech that met their objectives and then for Best Evaluator. Evaluators are also speeches therefore give them an introduction and welcome then by name, remembering to state the name LAST.

At the break say what the restart time will be and ask the Sergeant at Arms to call members back at that time.
After the break introduce the Topics Master and shake hands. You do not give any indication of their theme as this is their session. When they conclude, shake hands again.

Prior to introducing the General Evaluator say that ‘this is your final duty of the evening’ and ask the General Evaluator to hand back to the President.

Plan well and the evening will go smoothly. Remember, don’t just rely on email contact, telephone and speak to each person to ensure all those on the programme are completely aware of their particular involvement during your evening.

From Speakeasy 193 – April 2015

HOW TO! – Evaluate Topics

HOWTOAs Topics are short and quite quick in succession, the Topics Evaluator has a lot of listening and watching to do in a short time, plus taking some notes. Firstly evaluate the Topics Master on how they ran the session, their introduction, the theme and how they closed the session by giving a brief resume of each speaker, calling for the timekeepers report then asking the audience to cast their vote. The essence for the participants is the same as any evaluation, albeit in a reduced time, in that one or two commendations should be made and one recommendation. The recommendation is very important for the participants to enable them to improve when they take part again. The Topics Evaluator must note the time allowed on the programme and then fit their evaluations into this time. Keep them short and to the point and you will not go wrong.

Taken from Speakeasy 181 – March 2014

HOW TO! – Evaluate Like a Pro

HOWTOToastmasters are a courageous bunch. Not only do they come and give speeches in public – one of the well documented fears – but they are also prepared to receive open and public feedback in front of their peers. As evaluators, we owe it to them to do our very best. Evaluating a speech is the ultimate expression of mentoring for a public speaker. The evaluator is there to offer guidance, advice and encouragement, and their role is key to the speaker’s development. So, what are the skills that need to be developed?

Observation skills: a combination of careful listening, note taking and ignoring the inner voice which may distract us. By the time that the target speech has been delivered the evaluator needs to have noticed and recorded all the relevant points. Notice everything – major and minor points; strengths and areas for improvement. And focus your observations around the objectives for the speech.

Real time organisational skills: in most Toastmaster clubs we will have 15 minutes or so to write our evaluation before delivering it. This limited time requires the evaluator to think and plan quickly. It’s a good skill to develop, but it is challenging. Have a template or a proforma to use, and write up the notes into some order, rather than go to the lectern with all of the scribbles made when observing the speech.

Encouragement: the evaluation speech must be encouraging. Drawing out the positive aspects of the speech, noting how much progress the speaker has made, and painting a picture of where their speaking career is heading.

Challenge: the speaker will learn most from the recommendations made to them. These need to be relevant, meaningful and delivered sensitively. It is useful to have some phrases to introduce a recommendation, e.g. “my encouragement is to try xxx”; “perhaps xxx could be considered next time” “I was wondering whether xxx may work better”. Also, look for the less obvious points to note. Chances are that the speaker will be aware of their major errors, but may not know about the minor ones – nuances, often used “tell” words (you know, actually, now, so), and you will be providing a great service by pointing these out.

Managing our own anxiety: sometimes evaluators are reluctant to offer recommendations for fear of offending, or they make too many recommendations to demonstrate their own observational powers. What is important here is to overcome any reluctance to challenge a speaker – after all they have signed up to be assessed by an evaluator!

As well as evaluating single speeches, there is the opportunity to evaluate groups of speakers as the topics evaluator, and to evaluate the whole evening as general evaluator. All of the above skills apply in these roles, with some key additions. Structure is vital, as time is limited and the evaluator needs to be highly organised. Being comprehensive and ensuring that every speaker receives both praise and recommendations is also important. Finally, the best group evaluations will use different descriptors and adjectives for each speaker, and will give the audience a flavour of the collective activity as well as the individual speeches.

Use these skills to craft a well structured, helpful evaluation. Not only will you be providing an important service for the speaker, but you will be sharing learning with the audience. You will also develop your own skill which will help you become a better speaker. Good luck with it.

Charlie Warshawski – from Speakeasy 156 – February 2012

HOW TO! – Prepare and Practise

HOWTONow that you have the subject for your next speech, it is time to put it together. Write out your speech in full then read through it to see what is really not necessary to include and refine it so that it has a beginning that will hook in the audience, a body that has a logical flow and an ending the audience can take away with them.

Once you have the basis of the speech, speak it out loud to yourself several times and then practise in front of a mirror to see how your body language can be improved and record yourself. When playing back you can hear where you can use more voice modulation. If it is possible, ask your Mentor to see and hear your performance or at least give an outline by talking it through on the telephone so that you can gain advice.

When you feel comfortable, you will be ready to perform at your club. Remember, if you leave anything out of your speech the audience will not know so remember, when you see the red light, you should move smoothly into your close. Practise will help you to time yourself and be aware of when you need to close and will eventually make perfect!

Taken from Speakeasy 162 – August 2012