Evaluating is learning

I have been quite passive in Toastmaster for the past while. I did not show up to the meeting unless I have a speech or there is a special event. Last week, the chairman of today’s meeting ask me whether I help out as an evaluator. Since I have no reason to decline, I show up in the meeting to evaluate a speech. It was a CC#4 speech and the goal is to make good use of words. Although I have done this speech project before, it was almost 3 years ago, the speech project seems a like a stranger to me. Before the speech, I quickly went over the manual, check out the speech objectives.

Those objectives should be common sense to me. Namely, use short words and short sentence; be specify; use vivid language to draw a mental picture for the audience; use rhetorical device to spicy up the speech, avoid jargon, filter words and filter phrases. Yet I found myself do not pay enough attention to those basic objectives when I am working on my speech nowadays. I know how to write a good speech in theory, but I fail to deliver the end product most of time. Evaluating beginner’s speech helps me review some basic speech skills that I mostly forgotten or carelessly ignored. When I am giving the evaluation, I not only point problems in speech, I also have to give examples on how to improve it. It is just like teaching a student force you to know the material thoroughly, giving an evaluation force you to make a good example yourself. I an suppose an advance speaker in the club, but I still have lots to learn from the beginners.

5 thoughts on “Evaluating is learning”

  1. Hi Horace,

    Recognizing our own mistakes or deficiencies are part of what will help us get better.

    I sensed that you recognizing your TM attendance as “passive” and “did not show up to the meeting unless I have a speech or there is a special event”. To be honest, that is both self-fish (only care about your own growth) and not having enough opportunities to learn from others.

    I might have shared this with you. When I was doing my competent TM, I spent a few years attending meetings and giving speeches once in a while. I learned a lot from others. In one particular colleague, he was so good that I always learn a lot and was amazed of how great he was. I deliberately decided to not blast through the speeches just to get a gold star (the TM title), I was there to have some fun and learn.

    I guess, if you don’t mind me suggesting, learn from anyone you can. The person can be a first time or experienced speaker or in my blog friend Bill Buxton’s case, a 14 years old girl. See Bill’s BusinessWeek article “How to Keep Innovating” where he talked about learning from a 14-year-old girl.


    P.S. I haven’t given a prepared “speech” for sometime now. So I am sure I have lots to learn from you and others. But my point remains, we can and should learn from anyone and everyone we can.

  2. yes, i always get evaluated at work for basic teaching objectives…

    i wonder when will be the opportunity for us to evaluate our managers/ boss back? =p

    – wife

  3. kempton: I was quite active in TM and served in the club executive for 2 years. My TM club is a corporate club, we meet at lunch time. I am just getting lazy now, choose to go out for lunch, play foosball or chat with friends instead of show up in the meeting.

  4. You don’t need to practice what you learn only in formal speeches. You can apply them in your day-to-day activities, e.g., at work. Perhaps you can pick a specific aspect to focus on consciously every week. After a while, you may find out you are a much better speaker.

    And evaluating your boss… you don’t need to do that formally. Doing that in your mind is just as effective. You can listen and learn from every single speech, talk or even simple conversation. Take the good stuff and remember not to do the bad stuff.

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