Evaluation at the heart of development

Monday 17th October saw the most recent Chaucer Speakers Club meeting focus on the key issue of how to develop speaking confidence and skills.

To a packed meeting, Rachel delivered an Education Session which addressed the key issue of Evaluation.

We can all practice a speech on our own, in the car or in front of a mirror, but the feedback is going to be somewhat predictable. Practising in front of friends and family will probably result in an opinion either glowing in praise or withering in scorn.

At a Speakers Club meeting, an evaluation is provided by an experienced member of the group which needs to satisfy two key criteria –

Balanced and Appropriate

The purpose of an evaluation is to highlight what speaking skills have been successfully demonstrated by the speaker and to provide constructive criticism focused on the criteria the speech is attending to address (i.e. use of voice, use of gestures, use of notes etc).

One important aspect an evaluator needs to learn is their assessment of a speech is not for the sole benefit of the person who delivered the speech, but for the members in the audience. Hence why we always refer to ‘the speaker’ in the third person rather than by name: it’s a small detail but one which makes a difference.

Providing an evaluation is in itself a useful skill – the ability to provide an analytical assessment of a presentation in a way which is sensitive to the needs of the speaker. It is a skill which needs to be honed and developed over time and with guidance. As part of the club’s structure the evaluators themselves receive feedback on their performance to help them improve their skills. Another way for people to practice and improve their public speaking.