Saturday, February 20, 2016

Master the Skills of Being a Toastmasters Evaluator and You will be a Great Conversationalist Too!

         Have you ever wondered what are the value of the skills you are learning as a Toastmasters Evaluator?  As I watched the TEDx Talk of Celeste Headlee, the value of the skills learned in serving as an Evaluator in Toastmasters became apparent! Celeste is an exceptional radio host and writer.  In her TEDx talk, she shares from her experiences leading hundreds of interviews to identify "10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation." These are her ten points from the perspective of a Toastmaster.  (CH= she said it.  TM= application to TM Evaluations.) Master any one of these and you will be a great conversationalist and a great evaluator. However, note that Number 9 is the most important way to connect with people, in evaluations and in conversations. 

Let's start with number one.....
  • 1    Be present.
CH: Don’t multitask, even in your head. Be in the moment.
TM: Let the message be the speaker’s not yours.  Focus on the speakers’ message and delivery for the evaluation.

  • 2      Don’t pontificate.

CH: Enter every conversation expecting that you have something to learn. Everyone is an expert in something.  If you want to pontificate, write a blog.
TM: Don’t add your experience or your own message, let it be theirs alone, and the delivery of the presentation that you focus on. There may be a reason they did it a certain way and you may not always know the reason.
  • 3      Use open ended questions.

CH: Use who, when, why, what and how questions.  Ie. How did that feel?  vs. Were you angry?
You will gather much more valuable information.
TM: Ask these questions before the speech so you can evaluate the delivery during the speech. Know more than the audience knows by planning ahead with the speaker.
  • 4      Go with the flow.

CH: Let thoughts come and go. Be focused on the topic of the moment.  Let unrelated thoughts go. Adding some unrelated statement is distracting and thoughtless toward others.
TM: Focus on the speaker, not the meeting or your own thoughts that are unrelated.
  • 5      If you don’t know, say you don’t know.

CH: Err on the side of caution if you are not an expert on the topic or have a reason to know.
TM: You are not an expert, you are an evaluator who is always learning. Look for what you can learn from the manner in which the speaker presented to share in your evaluation.
  • 6      Don’t equate your experience with others’ experience.

CH: Your experience is never the same as someone else’s experience.  All experiences are individual.  Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.
TM: Focus on their learning and your learning from the speaker. A single suggestion or two is adequate to help them learn too.  Too much and they won’t remember anything you suggested.
  • 7     Try not to repeat yourself.

CH: Don’t say it over and over. If you want to say it, write a blog.
TM: Use your outline to plan many good comments without unnecessary repetition to fill time.
  • 8     Stay out of the weeds.
CH: The details don’t matter. Others want to get to know you not the details. Don’t slow down the conversation by trying remember the details.
TM: Give examples of the speaker’s speech, and not your own experience’s details. Focus on the other person and provide useful affirmations.
  • 9     LISTEN! – The most important one.

CH:  If your mouth is open you’re not listening.  Average person speaks at 225 words per minute, yet can listen at 500 words per minute.  Focus with intention. Stephen Covey says, Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply.  Understanding these concepts help you be a better conversationalist in every way.
TM:  In your evaluation, help the audience remember the speaker's speech more than they remember your evaluation.
  • 10   Be brief.

CH: Be interested in other people. Keep your mouth closed and your mind open. ‘A good conversation is like a miniskirt, short enough to draw attention and long enough to cover the subject.”
TM: You have 2-3 minutes to affirm and inspire with your evaluation. Make each second count and end early if you can.

         Follow these practices and be prepared to be amazed. – Celeste Headlee

         View her TEDx Talk:

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