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We all want to know how we did after a speech. It is nice to get a pat on the back or even receive a helpful comment and something that could have been done in a manner that would have made your point more effective. But, where is the line between and an evaluation and a criticism.

Here is the question I received after my podcast with Doreen Guma regarding speech evaluations. “I Love toastmasters. I once gave a speech where someone came up afterwards and was in tears and said how much she was moved by my speech, but then zapped me with “but you had 20 ums”…….oh my! I felt inflated and then immediately deflated! Thoughts? “

In a Toastmasters club we try to be very polite and encouraging when evaluating a speaker. But how it is received can sometimes be challenging.

We had a speaker that rocked back and forth throughout her whole speech. I was the one evaluating it and I had to tell her even though it was her first speech. I gave helpful hints on how to replace the rocking with another gesture, such as walking the stage and other ideas. The feedback I got from her was that I was rude, inconsiderate and she didn’t want to talk to me again. Luckily, she videotaped her speech that night and when she watched it she saw what I was talking about. During the meeting when I evaluated her, she had no idea what she did. It wasn’t until she saw the tape that she realized that her rocking was for the entire length of the speech. Sometimes we cannot see ourselves like others can and sometimes we give and get evaluations that are not delivered as nicely as they should have been. But, you must remember that every time someone gives an evaluation they are also learning to do it more effectively. Saying you had 20 umms at a meeting is frowned on. They could have said more than 5 umms, or made a joke of your excellent pronunciation of the word umm. Perhaps that would have helped keep you inflated longer. But if you did get to 20 and/or it was a distraction to your speech, then we are in Toastmasters for a reason, to be better speakers and get feedback. You got feedback in a room full of people that want you to succeed. If you are using UMMMMMMMMMM’s too much, then in a Toastmasters club is the place to hear it.

If the evaluator was mean spirited then you should say something to the club President. There are also manuals on how to give proper evaluations. That may help avoid this situation in the future. As for the person I evaluated, she and I are now good friends and if it wasn’t for her evaluation of a speech I gave I wouldn’t be doing what I do today.

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