Evaluating A Speech

Eric Feng, The Public Speaking Blog, wrote an excellent post today on giving and receiving effective speech evaluations.  He lists thirteen points, including: 
  – Be generous with your smiles.
  – Compliment the speaker.
  – Clap like you mean it.
  – Drop the speaker a nice email.
  – And NINE more!

Visit Eric’s site for his thoughts on those points and more.

I’d like to add seven of my own points:

1.  Have good intentions.  What if you don’t like the speaker’s topic?  Or maybe you don’t like the speaker!  Come from a good place.  Share your good will in an open-minded way.  Likewise, when receiving an evaluation, always assume that the intentions of your evaluator are good.

2.  To flinch is normal.  Be aware that as an evaluator, the speaker you’re trying to help may show some resistance.  Sometimes an evaluation feels like criticism, even when it’s meant to be helpful.  That’s human nature and don’t take it personally.  If you’re receiving an evaluation, avoid being defensive.

3.  Remember the level of the speaker.  Are you evaluating a novice speaker or a seasoned pro?  The depth and tone of your evaluation will change depending on the experience of the speaker.

4.  You were them.  Remember that you were once a beginning speaker too.  How did you feel giving a speech when you were starting out?  What did it feel like getting an evaluation?  What elements of an evaluation did you find especially effective?

5.  Suggest one DOABLE thing.  For each suggestion, give a very specific, DOABLE thing.  I learned that from speaker-coach Max Dixon.  Something that they can actually DO is easier to impliment than something to THINK.  Actions are easier to apply than mindsets.

6.  Keep your sense of humor.  Whether giving or receiving an evaluation, keep your sense of humor.  A little laugh can sweeten a suggestion.

7.  It’s only an opinion.  When giving an evaluation, remember that you’re only sharing your opinion.  It’s not fact.  It’s not the word of God.  You’re simply a mirror that reflects back to the speaker how his or her speech affected you and how you think it might be improved.