Evaluating a speech for maximum impact

I gave a speech at the Taboos Toastmasters club yesterday evening and during the evaluation by the General Evaluator, there was a mini debate about the best way for evaluators to evaluate a speech. The argument had one group of people who thought the evaluator should speak directly and exclusively to the speaker, and the other group thought the evaluator should speak to the speaker but also address the audience.

Speech Evaluation

 

I think an effective and impactful evaluation achieves both purposes. Based on my personal experience and the content available on the Toastmasters.org website, this is what I think a speech evaluation should be conducted, in three minutes:

  • Connect with the speaker. Find a point the speaker made that you could relate to, and open by mentioning that point. That will make the speaker feel at ease and know that you actually listened carefully. During this phase of the evaluation, focus your attention on the speaker. It is your evaluation opening, and the speaker should feel that this will be about him or her.
  • Highlight the strong points of the speaker. The strong points of the speaker should either be the speaking skills he has and you the evaluator don’t, or the speaking skills that you have and can tell the speaker has too. Mentioning those skills will help audience members learn from the evaluation process, the speech would have given them a good reference.
  • Make suggestions for improvement. This is where the constructive criticism comes in. One important word NOT to say to transition into this phase is the word “BUT”. When you use the word “but”, whatever you would have said before is nullified and rendered void in the mind of the speaker and the audience. Replace “but” with “and”. It will achieve the same purpose and will be more effective. The suggestions for improvement are those aspect of the speaker’s delivery or message that “you” believe making adjustments to will help in the future. Keep these suggestions to a minimum (in public) and during this phase, generalize what you say by turning your suggestions into lessons for the speaker and the audience alike.

Giving a good speech evaluation that will have an impact on the speaker is a challenging task. Just like with anything else, it is the process of doing that over and over again that will make you become an expert a it. The debate should not be about whether you should speak exclusively to the speaker or the audience, it should be about what goes into delivering an impactful evaluation. Every time you evaluate, remember the points mentioned above and you will be evaluating for maximum impact.

My first video following up on “YouTube it!”

This week has been great and I cannot wait until next week, which will be even greater. One of the very good things that happened among others this week is my first meeting with Darren Lacroix, the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking. Darren was giving an educational presentation at the Orange County Speakers Bureau and I am so happy I made time to attend. In this post, I share  a video I created after watching one of Darren’s video products: YouTube it! How To Profit From Free Web Video.

My objective now will be to produce and upload one video every week on my channel. That will be 52 videos in a year. It is possible and easy. The key is just to start doing it and not stopping once momentum is built. Like Darren says, “Done is better than perfect.”

Are you under construction or under distraction?

Today I am inspired to talk about relationships and the state you are in, construction or distraction. Even though this is mostly applicable to those who are single or dating, I believe married men and women can relate to this and share it with their loved ones.

Going out on a many dates over the past few months, I have learned how to quickly identify if a lady I am on a date with has the basic attributes I am looking for in an ideal life partner. As I have gotten better at this, I noticed that sometimes, despite having realized there was no long term future for me and the lady, I would still go on subsequent dates. It never dawned on me that it was a waste of time. Ok, not really a waste but somehow a waste. Subsequent dates were distractions. They were distractions because they took my attention and energy away from what I wanted and into what I knew I did not want. Whether you find the lady very attractive and beautiful or not so much, for someone who already knows what he wants, it would be a distraction.

Under Construction

The opposite of being under distraction is being under construction. When a man is attracted to a woman beyond physical appearance and the opposite is true, a relationship begins. When the two have consciously agreed and made the decision to be in a relationship with one another, they enter into “construction” mode. In construction mode, everything done by both parties is with the aim of strengthening the relationship, building a strong foundation that hopefully will serve as the pillars of a matrimonial union in the future.

This concept does not only apply to relationships, it applies to every aspect of our lives. We should constantly evaluate whether we are under construction or under distraction. What state are you in?

My simple weight loss solution

Last weekend spend an hour on the phone with my junior brother and when we had finished catching up with family news and other related business, he told me he had noticed from my pictures that I had lost weight. I was happily surprised. Not that I have a problem with weight loss but I am more conscious of what goes into my body and a logical consequence is an overall improvement of the quality of my health. If that comes with weight loss, great!

hot green tea

He asked me what I was doing different and I told him. In this post I want to share what I have shared with him that I believe is the cause of my weight loss. Here comes the list:

  • Make the conscious decision to lose weight. That is the first step towards permanent weight loss. I made the decision last year in October to build my dream body. Ripped abs and pumped up chess. When a friend asked me why, my reply was “why not?” I will achieve my desired result for two reasons: 1. Because I can 2. Because the process and discipline it requires will help me in every other area of my life. Make the decision and have your “whys” ready.
  • Drink lots of tea. Since about November of last year, I have been drinking a lot of green tea, which contains lots of antioxidants and helps improve metabolism. My green tea consumption is now at two to five bags every day. That seems to be working and I encourage you to drink more tea. One factor that helps is that the water cooler in the office is next to Coke vending machine and (almost) every time I am tempted to buy a coke, I fill my cup with hot water and make myself a cup of tea. Replace soda with hot green tea and you will be on your way to simple weight loss.
  • Begin an (easy) exercise routine. An easy exercise routine could be as simple as walking for 30 minutes every day or stretching when you wake up in the the morning. What prevents many people to start exercising is that they see the final result (people in top physical shape) and don’t want to accept that the process to that result takes time and daily dedication. I have been walking every morning for an hour since January 1st and when I cannot go walking because of an early morning appointment, I do stretch exercises, push-ups and squats in my bedroom before taking a shower.

I have bought a few books that explain many different weight loss strategies. The bridge between someone reading the book and loosing the weight is consistent daily action, which I have started and am engaged in. You don’t actually need the books, unless you love reading and can use some motivation to get you started. If you want to lose weight: make the decision, drink green tea, exercise daily and have fun in the process. To your success!

Lessons from the international speech contest

I am an active member of Toastmasters International and last Saturday March 9th, I participated in the International Speech Contest for Area G1 in Division G. Lined up against 4 other talented and confident speakers from different clubs in our area, I knew I had a very good shot at taking the trophy home. I was loaded with positive energy and enthusiasm that I shared with everyone I spoke to on that morning.

Speech Contest Picture

Scott Shier – Area G1 Governor with Lionnel Yamentou – Second place for International Speech Contest Table Topics.

To my surprise, when the results were announced I did not come second place as I thought I would have. I was a bit disappointed but I rather quickly got over it and I am already looking forward to the next speech contest. I will take part in every contest until I sign-up for a leadership role within Toastmasters which disqualifies me from participating in contests. The contests are fun and always have great audiences. The contest was a priceless learning experience. Here are 3 lessons I took away:

  • Prepare and practice. I am blessed to have a few people who have committed themselves to coaching and mentoring me but I did not fully take advantage of them when preparing for the area contest. I met with my enunciation and pronunciation coach 3 days before the area contest but we did not have enough time to thoroughly practice my delivery. For the next contest, I will prepare and practice with my various coaches weeks ahead of time.
  • My best might not be enough. So long as there is someone out there whose best is better than your best, you are likely not to emerge as the contest winner. I realized that there are speakers who are very well skilled in areas where I lack, and I have decided to commit more time working on improving my weaknesses. I know what they are and I know what edge the contest winners had over me.
  • Winning is just the icing on the cake. I met a gentleman who took part in the contest and he was very happy to have taken part but he explicitly told me he was not interested in winning. He was happy to “be in the game” but was not playing to win. He was just having a good time. I also had a fun time with the process and delivering my speech but I went into the contest with a “do or die” attitude, as opposed to a “do or do” attitude. Winning the contest was and is still important to me, but it will just be the icing on the cake, the cake being taking part to the contest.

If you belong to a Toastmasters club, I strongly encourage you to take part in contests, you will learn a lot. If you are not yet a member of Toastmasters, please sign up as soon as possible. You will get access to a great network of people who are committed to improving themselves and others by developing their communication and leadership skills.