The Advanced Communicator Gold workshop is one of the final tasks that a Toastmaster must give in order to win the DTM. It seems like here in the Southern Division, The Art of Effective Evaluation is a favorite choice from the Success/Communication options. I did it myself – and watched several other people do it as well.
I think there are two big reasons why we all do it.
First, we know what it is – we’re familiar with it and like the content.
It is a very useful workshop to present – clubs like it, and it’s very useful before the Evaluation contests start in the new year. The Art of Effective Evaluation is a logical, linear presentation that I enjoy as a participant as much as I liked presenting it myself.
Second, we just don’t know what’s in the others. I’ve read all the material available on the Toastmasters website. It’s pretty scanty. None of the descriptions are more than 5 lines long. It’s hard to get a grasp of what the material is – and the Expanding Your Horizons booklet only repeats what’s posted on the website, although it does include helpful lists of the kits’ materials.
I hear that TI is expecting to update the website soon – I hope this is one of the improvements they intend to make.
A challenge our division presenters have is to adapt the presentation to make it their own. This is the problem with all of the standard speeches provided by Toastmasters – especially the required Successful Club and Better Speaker speeches. Toastmasters International has modified their material and we now work with an outline instead of a script. That’s a huge improvement; it becomes our quest to present the material in our own voices.
I’ve seen a lot of creativity in these presentations. In fact, I think I’ve only ever once seen any of these done with the actual slides provided by TI. I’ve taken the club roles presentation to a new level by raiding the local Panera bakery for “rolls” that represent the club roles and officer roles. I saw an excellent presentation on how to write an introduction with all new slides by a graphic artist. Her work was outstanding. The more creativity, the more effective these presentations can be – or at least, more memorable.
Tonight’s presentation of The Art of Effective Evaluation was done by Laura Dressler, a woman who has just finished her last task for her DTM. (All she’s waiting for now is her protégé finishing up his last mentored speech and she’ll be done.) She’d planned to use this program for several months, but finding a location and time to present wasn’t as easy as she’d hoped. Laura finally found a club that was willing to host the program in one night.
Evaluation of the Club
When Toastmasters gives you enough material to cover in two hours and you only have one, it’s difficult to pick the points you want to make. In this case, Laura spent more time talking about the club’s culture and practices than she did anything else. I found that to the direction I would have taken myself. The self-esteem material wasn’t ignored, but by taking the time to have the participants fill out the survey and then have the numbers reported back by assistant Tom Kolp, it helped focus the attention on what the club was doing right, and what the club needs to focus on. That’s a good evaluation tool.
Evaluation of the Speaker
Laura recruited an excellent speaker to be the target of two evaluations. Dan Toussant is a very gifted speaker. I always enjoy listening to him. He gave an ice-breaker speech about how Toastmasters has changed his life. It could be a great recruitment speech to bring in new members. He’s such a good speaker that finding points of growth is very difficult.
After listening very carefully to Laura’s presentation on I/You statements, I proceeded to smatter my evaluation with “You need to” statements. This is a nasty habit I’ve picked up and tonight demonstrated how casually I use those three words. I want to eliminate those from my evaluations! I’m going to put that at the top of any evaluation notes I take to remind myself not to fall back into that bad practice.
My evaluation was very direct and focused on one point. Dan isn’t a fast speaker; in fact, he’s very conversational. But in telling a story about his daughter, I strongly suggested that he work in some pauses to build up the tension and emotion.
Jo, who followed me with her evaluation of Dan, was very motivational. She noted a few of Dan’s habits that he’s successfully overcome in his presentations and complimented him about them. She was right! I’d completely missed that! She also pointed out Dan’s comfort at the lectern. Yeah! I saw that too, and how well he wrapped up his speech by bringing back the question that had started his speech – but I didn’t mention those things. Jo’s point of growth was more about the clutter on the table in front of Dan – a couple of small easels that she said blocked her view of some of the presentation. As a speaker, she said, he should take command of his stage and remove those items that are distracting to the audience.
I never thought of that.
Was Jo’s point of growth better than mine? Neither of us thought so. Her perspective was just as right as mine was. Dan had something to learn from both of us. Her evaluation was far more motivational than mine, and I respect that. It’s something I need to work on – especially because it was written in the notes I took to the lectern with me.
I noticed something tonight about having two evaluators working from the same speech – I learned more about evaluation from Jo tonight than I have from any other evaluation experience in a long time. That’s not to denigrate Laura’s great presentation tonight. Jo and I, in our differing views and presentations, showed me very precisely what it is I want to change. That is extremely valuable to me!
As the DTM Mentorship chair, I’m asked what I recommend for this ACG requirement. I can’t say anything but good about The Art of Effective Evaluation, but I would like to see something else. What would you recommend? What have you seen that was excellent?
Since this is a new blog, I could use some help getting it out to other Toastmasters. How about a link, a like or otherwise comment? I’d appreciate the help!by