Return to Feedback – our focus

How to listen, speak and think when you are the evaluator

Sometimes you just have to force yourself to pay attention. Sometimes we are anxious, bored or distracted. Here are some practical tools to help you really listen, speak and think when you evaluate:


Look at the speaker – Not window, the evaluation sheet or other people in the audience. The speaker will feel encouraged and it indicates a receptive audience.

Mirror the speaker’s feeling – Smile, frown, lean forward, shake your head at a sad story. When you mirror the speakers’ feeling this will create a bond between you and the speaker and let’s you experience the speech on an emotional level.

Use Triggers – Use keywords to remember what to say. Writing extensive notes will take away your focus from the speaker


When you give feedback to someone you start by describing why you’re having the conservation, explain how you see the situation and ask how the other person see’s the situation. Then you show what you’ve heard and specify what you want to see happen. Finally you tie the desired behaviour to consequences (positive or negative).

However, in Toastmasters we tell and sell – the speaker does not have the chance to respond to your feedback when you’re on stage which is why the following points are so important.

Speak for yourself – Offer comments from your own experience or point of view. Avoid Saying “ Everyone thinks, “People are saying” Instead say “ I saw…” or “ I am concerned” (My boss used the former in my employee appraisal and it is an unpleasant experience)

Make it Subjective – Make use of your subjective filter, impact on you, did it make you feel uncomfortable? The speaker doesn’t know but wants to know. They don’t want to know your opinion on the speech topic. (I once had to evaluate an inspirational speech on religion. This woman started every sentence with “The Bible says this…the Bible says that” I chose to comment on her delivery and swiftly commented on the content.


From What to Why – Start with what was effective then ask yourself why it was effective. The more “why’s” you uncover, the more helpful your evaluation will be.