What To Say When You Evaluate A Speech Or An Employee’s Performance
By Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
In Toastmasters I discovered an evaluation technique that worked so well that for years I regularly won the award for best evaluator.
That discovery provided me with a template that I have used ever since, not just to evaluate a speech for when I have been asked to give my thoughts on other matters as well.
Here’s what I would do when I evaluated a speech. At the very beginning I would point out what I really liked about the speech. I was specific about something that was really good. Sometimes, I have to admit, it was difficult to find anything to praise. But I always found something.
Then, I would make suggestions about how to improve the speech, but I was careful to do it in a tentative, cautious manner. I would say something like, “You might want to consider beginning your speech with a question or a quote…” or “I felt you might have had a stronger close if you had ended your speech with the story you told in the middle of your speech. That was a great story.”
Bottom line: I found that saying something positive and then making a few specific suggestions as suggestions in a tentative manner always was successful.
Interestingly, few members in my Toastmasters club ever did that. They would either make their evaluations all compliments or all nitpicking.
One final recommendation. It’s really, really important to say something positive at the beginning of an evaluation. I learned this lesson from personal experience.
When I first started writing professionally, and had had very little published, I remember taking one of my pieces to an editor. She read it quickly, and said right off the bat: “You will have to do a complete re-write.” That was devastating.
Later I had editors who would begin with a compliment, telling me something that they really liked. When that happened, I was emotionally able to go back, do the edits, and make it better. I learned from those experiences that Mary Poppins was absolutely right: A bit of praise—just like a spoonful of sugar-—certainly helps the medicine go down.
I have used this formula–this template–for years. It really works. Next time you are asked to evaluate a speech or a presentation, or an employees efforts, always begin with a compliment.
Let me recommend a DVD–“Lincoln on Communication” that tells some discoveries that Abraham Lincoln made on his way to becoming one of the world’s great communicators.