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Evaluating the Accomplished Speaker

When a speech is so good you canít find anything to criticize, what do you say? The following summarizes an article by Jo-Anne McDowell, DTM and Robert McDowell, DTM from the April 2000 edition of The Toastmaster magazine.

The speaker had been wonderful, yet you dread the words of the evaluator. You hear them too often and knew them far too well. "It was an excellent speech. I really didn't find anything to criticize. You did a really good job."

Fortunately, the job of the evaluator is not to criticize, it is to evaluate: to notice the strengths, to make suggestions for development, to help the weak get stronger and the strong become excellent. The real danger of a whitewash is that many speakers, with the potential to become excellent, instead stagnate in mediocrity because no one offers them suggestions for improvement. All speakers have the capacity to be better -- but only if they are blessed with evaluators generous enough to attentively consider the speaker and share ideas for improvement.

As club members, we are obligated to help even the most accomplished speakers get better by providing them with evaluations based on their needs and skill levels. The authors developed an evaluation technique called PIN-Up. PIN-Up is based on Edward DeBonoís PIN (Positive Interesting Negative). The new model stands for Positive, Interesting, Next time, and Uplifting.

Postives: Accomplished speakers have mastered the basics: eye contact, vocal variety, gestures. Positives extend beyond acknowledgement of this fact and focus on the qualities that differentiate the speaker from others at his or her level.

Interesting: This component allows the evaluator to respond personally to the speaker and the speech. Perhaps the content was well developed, or the speech triggered a particular emotion. How did the speech make the evaluator feel?

Next time: This is the challenge for most evaluators. Consider the skill level, the objective of the speech, and the intended audience. Notice the content of the speech, grammar, and presentation style. Comment on what you think would have made the speech have a stronger impact on you. With the term next time, the evaluator is not required to find a specific flaw to criticize.

Uplifting: The final component encourages the evaluator to find some motivational in the speech content or delivery.

The art of evaluation demands much more than the deliveryof compliment and criticisms. It is the ability to provide effective feedback so speakers can continue to improve. WithPIN-Up, even the most accomplished speaker receives an evaluation that is both positive and developmental.


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