Wonderful news! We are meeting at 18:15 BST on Thursday, May 21! We are meeting on Zoom! Click on this text to join the chat room. If that doesn’t work on your device, the Meeting ID is 853 4330 9159, and the password is speakers.
We listened to and engaged with an impressive evaluation workshop orchestrated by Katia Hougaard.
(The Prepared Speakers and Evaluations sessions were part of Katia’s two-hour workshop.)
Katia outlined her objectives and asked us to remember why we were venturing in the quest to become a better public speaker in the first place.
We discovered ways to improve our skills not only as an evaluator but also as a communicator in general. We also found how improving ourselves could strengthen our relationships with peers, especially if we find ourselves mentoring or evaluating someone.
Learning to speak with Toastmasters seems to be one of the best ways to become a better evaluator, public speaker, leader, and, ultimately, person.
What were the audience’s raison d’être? Katia encourages the audience to give reasons for wanting to learn more about the art of effective communication.
Chuka said he wanted to be more confident in all aspects of life. He wants not to have to repeat himself due to poor enunciation.
Thuraya, an Imperial College alumnus, meets with five Toastmasters clubs! Joining that many clubs would significantly advance her potential to lead a remarkable life!
Rahul is inspired by those who are communicating change and “making an impact” for the better. Despite being a motivational speaker for a year, he thinks that Toastmasters can be a “transformational experience” for him.
Rakesh wants to inspire at a more “practical” level. He also wants to be more well-spoken.
Journey of Improvement
Any person who joins Toastmasters (or wants to grow as an effective communicator) will undergo a speech journey or, as Katia describes it, a “Journey of Improvement”. This process is not linear; it is cyclic.
First, the evaluator monitors the behaviour of the speaker when they give a speech. The evaluator provides feedback to the speaker. Then, the speaker implements their evaluator’s feedback to their next speech. And so on.
- acknowledge desires and not reveal too many negative comments at once;
- suggest improvements instead of criticising constantly;
- help the speaker overcome their fear with tact and sensitivity.
At this point in the meeting, Katia invited everyone to fill out a brief survey to evaluate an aspect of Imperial College Speakers. Even when we are doing something as seemingly simple as filling out a survey, we are acting as evaluators.
Toastmasters is unique because the community and environment nourish self-esteem and fuel personal growth. She has been a Toastmaster for seven years now, but there was a time that Katia was always talked down whenever she was caught talking up excessively. Today, she recognises the strengths of being a great Toastmasters Evaluator.
So, Evaluators should also:
- be genuine;
- provide a positive direction;
- recognise improvements;
- create a climate for motivation;
- avoid value judgements (like criticising based on the speaker’s beliefs).
The evaluator should demonstrate genuine interest and that they care about the speaker.
Ideally, the evaluator and speaker should be paired to maximise the potential impact the evaluator can have on the speaker. For example, they could both have similar interests or goals.
The evaluator should personalise their language to maximise the speaker’s acceptance of the feedback and the likelihood that the speaker will implement said feedback. Avoid addressing the speaker in the second person.
The speaker should clearly communicate their goals with their evaluator. This will help the speaker achieve faster growth because their evaluator can better define and refine speaker objectives.
The speaker must be sufficiently prepared so they do not waste the evaluator’s time. It is not for a battle with “an adversary” as the evaluator is, generally, friendly and helpful.
The speaker should adopt a growth mindset. If you believe that your intelligence can be improved by hard work and perseverance, you have a growth mindset and understand the worth of the circuitous path to (speaking) success.
Martin told us a humorous series of stories before telling us how joining Toastmasters has helped him realise how one carelessly spoken word can influence the direction of a situation.
He told stories about this person he knew who was a “typewriting” genius and his ventures in the cold of Winnipeg or, as Martin jokes, “Winterpeg”.
When he joined Toastmasters, he learnt an important lesson. Words are extremely influential. So, when considering whether “to speak or not to speak”, we should know exactly where we want to take the conversation and how we want the receiving party to feel.
Philipp presented a speech about how we should drop our backpack “full of expectations” so we might live a more fulfilling life.
“Who is that sexy boy” donning that heavy rucksack? It was Philipp with a dramatic speech about letting go of expectations.
Hid dad would often hold back his potential saying things like, “Philipp, you must do better. Philipp, you must concentrate. Philipp, you must win!” Then, Philipp did the unexpected. He had a “difficult concentration” with his dad and changed courses. His grades improved and he made his dad proud!
Craig evaluated Martin’s speech.
Martin’s opening was clear.
He should “try not to look to the sides of the camera” but directly at the camera.
From Craig’s slideshow, Craig spotted Martin’s use of emotional, suggestive, descriptive, suggestive, and prompting gestures and stances!
Kenny evaluated Philipp’s speech.
Philipp’s speech was brimming with evocative body language.
He could have developed his speech into “more of a story”. For instance, what did he want to study and how did that compare to his dad’s expectations?
His linguistic devices made for a more interesting speech.
Katia asked if any of the audience agreed or disagreed with the evaluators or whether they had a different opinion entirely.
Panos believed Philipp’s evaluation needed to be solely about winning a speech competition as outlined in his objectives.
Harshit agreed with Craig that Martin’s body language was too fast and appeared like a “blur”.
Chuka spotted the attention-grabbing way both speakers introduced their speeches: with humour and a quote. Also, Philipp’s analogy of a filled backpack to represent the expectations of life was executed expertly.
Finally, Marian liked Philipp’s use of props and call to action.
Katia invited us to consider three things we can do to improve based on the lessons from her workshop.
To facilitate changing our behaviour, she recommends that we:
- decide what we want to change;
- recognise the benefits of change;
- put the change into action;
- make it a habit;
- never stop improving!