Toastmasters Tip: JOG to Win that Toastmasters Evaluation Contest
by Allan Misch
“Winning isn’t everything—wanting to win is.” —Vince Lombardi
Here’s an easy way to take home a few Toastmasters evaluation contest trophies: Don’t walk, don’t run, just JOG to first place. JOG stands for Judging, Organization and Goodwill.
It stands to reason that the more understanding you have of the judging process, the better chance you have of earning high marks on the judge’s ballot. It’s easy for you to find out what the judges will be looking for. Read the Toastmasters evaluation contest rules in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest Rulebook (Code 1171) and become familiar with the Evaluation Contest Judge’s Guide and Ballot (Code 1179).
One fact you’ll find in the rules is that any Toastmaster in good standing may compete in the Toastmasters Evaluation Contest. If you recently joined Toastmasters and haven’t yet given an icebreaker speech, you still may participate.
All contestants evaluate the same speaker, called the model speaker. At the conclusion of the model speech, contestants leave the room to prepare their evaluations. You will have only five minutes for preparation and a maximum of three and a half minutes for presentation.
The judges will rate you in several categories:
- Analytical Quality (40 points)—Be clear, well organized, and to the point. Don’t ramble or repeat yourself. Don’t take more than thirty seconds to introduce your evaluation. Strike a balance between positive and negative remarks.
- Recommendations (30 points)—No speech, no matter how well delivered, is so perfect that it can’t be enhanced. Be specific, helpful and positive.
- Technique (15 points)—Be sensitive and sincere, never sarcastic. Don’t criticize the speaker’s opinion. Refer to the speaker in the second person; say “you” or “your,” not “she” or ”his.”
- Summation (15 points)—Summarize your major points at the end of the evaluation, using the “sandwich” technique. Mention a couple of strong points of the speech, followed by the weaknesses and recommendations. End by enumerating the rest of the positives. It’s important to end on a positive, encouraging note.
Remember: Analytical quality and recommendations account for seventy percent of your score. Make sure your Toastmasters evaluation is well focused and helpful to the speaker.
Because you are expected to do a lot in a short time, your Toastmasters evaluation must be well organized. Since you’re given only five minutes in which to attempt to prepare an effective three-minute speech, some advance preparation is extremely helpful.
The contest rules do not preclude using a structured evaluation form prepared several weeks in advance. You can take an Individual Speech Evaluation Form (Code 165) and write on it several different opening and closing remarks of a humorous, inspirational, and motivational nature.
Your ultimate selection will depend on the content of the model speech. Of course, you shouldn’t feel bound by your list should a more appropriate opening suggest itself, but it can be an invaluable tool when you are in a pinch.
The simplest method of organization is also the most effective: Tell them what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said.
The opening should help you establish rapport with your audience, get them to relax and pay attention to you. Explain what you think is the purpose of the speech.
Tell them you will evaluate the speech in terms of your reaction to the speaker, pointing out some of the strong points and weak points of the speech and that you will offer some recommendations for improvement.
In the body of the Toastmasters evaluation, give examples of strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for improvement. Choose a balanced number of strong and weak qualities. Try to touch on four to six areas, such as speech development and organization, vocal characteristics, gestures and body language, speaker’s appearance, mannerisms and eye contact. In the body of the evaluation, you say what you told them you were going to say.
In the thirty-second to one-minute closing, restate what you think was the purpose of the speech and state whether you believe that purpose has been achieved. Summarize your reactions to the speech and close with either one of your pre-selected remarks or something suggested by the speech itself.
Get the judges to want you to win by establishing good feelings toward you and your evaluation. One way to do this is by appearing confident, relaxed and enthusiastic. Nervous, ill-at-ease speakers make others uncomfortable.
Long before the contest, visualize yourself giving an evaluation and receiving the trophy. Repeat this visualization often in the weeks leading to the competition. Just before the contest begins, replay the images in your mind.
During the contest you’ll feel as if you’re doing something you’ve done many times before rather than experiencing it for the first time. This reduces nervousness and increases confidence.
Just before the contest, do relaxation exercises. Nervousness is largely a physical sensation.
Show respect for the competition and its judges through appropriate dress and careful grooming. Dress well, but fairly conservatively. Attention should be drawn to your words, not your clothes.
Avoid loud colors, ostentatious jewelry, and overly casual or formal attire. Even though there are no points given for appearance, it does determine the first impression you make and will color your entire presentation.
A guaranteed way to alienate the audience and judges is to appear insensitive to the speaker’s feelings. Be sure to praise the speech’s strengths and offer constructive ideas to correct its weaknesses. Couch recommendations in positive terms while putting yourself in the speaker’s position. Say, “I would” rather than “you should.” That way your suggestions will never seem like personal attacks.
Take Home a Trophy
Winning isn’t everything, but it sure is nice every now and then. By keeping in mind the concepts of judging criteria, organization, and goodwill, you will become a better evaluator and speaker. You may even jog home with a few Toastmasters evaluation trophies.
©Allan Misch, DTM, 1988-2013. All rights reserved. The author gives permission to reproduce this article; disseminate it; publish it in print, electronic form and on a website as long as it is not edited and carries the byline and contact information.
Allan is a member of the Randallstown Network Toastmasters Club. He has presented educational seminars at district and regional functions. He has won more than 20 Speech, Table Topics, and Evaluation contests, including District 18’s International Speech Contest. He specializes in rapidly reducing public speaking fear and offers 4 valuable, complimentary videos on “10 Critical Strategies to Make Your Presentation Slides More Memorable” and public speaking tips in his complimentary No Sweat Speaking™ newsletter. Get it at http://www.nosweatspeaking.com.
More in this section: Toastmasters Tip: 14 Steps for Being an Outstanding Toastmaster of the Day | Toastmasters Tip: How to Look Good as a Toastmasters Table Topics Master | Toastmasters Tip: Seven Keys to a Successful Toastmasters Evaluation | Toastmasters Tip: Six Keys for a Winning Toastmasters Table Topics Presentation | Toastmasters Tip: Two Powerful Techniques for Introducing a Speaker