Speech Evaluation

Article based on interview by Val Adolph


Noel Bentley DTM, is known in his two clubs, White Rock Toastmasters and Professional Edge as a consummate speech evaluator. Here he shares some of his thoughts on that valuable Toastmaster skill – Speech Evaluation.


Every single Toastmaster is more than capable of evaluating a speech. No-one should say, or be allowed to say “I’m not good enough to evaluate yet”. Even if you are not experienced give yourself permission to evaluate someone’s speech. Look at it this way – they are asking for your help to improve. Do you really want to turn down a request for help? They are waiting for you to do just that – to help them. Even the newest Toastmaster can find something good in a speech and something that might be improved.



Decide how you will structure your evaluation BEFORE you stand up to present it. The speaker and the audience want to hear your feedback, not watch you assemble your points while standing at the lectern.

Structure is such an important part of an evaluation. You shouldn’t be trying to figure out how to put your thoughts together as you’re standing up to present them.

Find a structure you can work with – there are lots of them, find one you can work with comfortably. Make yourself a template from it to use each time you evaluate. Many people like the sandwich method (a good point, a suggestion for improvement, and what you liked best.) Others adapt this to a 3-2-1 method (three good things, two ideas for improvement, one great point). There are many more structures to choose from and most have enthusiastic advocates. Try different ways to see which works best for you. The only right way is the way that helps you give the strongest and most supportive evaluation.


Get familiar with the different types of evaluation – how an Ice Breaker evaluation differs from, say, an evaluation of a speech being prepared for a contest. Different speakers have different levels of needs for encouragement and for being spurred on to greater efforts. It’s not helpful to simply guess what the needs are, it’s important to talk with the speaker ahead of time and to ask them.

A ‘before talk’ is very helpful to discover precisely what a speaker needs or is looking for. An ‘after talk’ to give greater depth and a more personal understanding of your evaluation helps too. It’s not only about having listened well, it’s about communication.

The evaluation is based on the needs of the speaker; the evaluator tries to deliver whatever is needed at the time. Sometimes you need to add in a challenge. For instance, if a speaker makes the same mistake each time they speak it’s good to give them a challenge to address that issue.

Higher levels of analysis are needed when you are evaluating a speech that is being prepared for a contest, so you may be providing more suggestions for improvement than usual. Still, it’s important to remember that encouragement is part of the package too.

Evaluation is all about listening. If the speaker indicates that you have nailed the evaluation, then they know you were listening very deeply. It shows that you have taken an interest in the speaker and you care about his progress.

The more you evaluate the more you see its many facets. A strong evaluator:

  •       builds the speaker’s self-esteem as well as motivating and counselling the speaker.
  •       uses concrete examples to illustrates  the points made
  •      makes it clear by using phrases like “it seemed to me…” that this is just one person’s opinion.

Every Toastmaster has a suggestion for improvement for even the best speech, World Champions included. We all have unique insights and perceptions. Offered constructively these can help another Toastmaster along their path.


Every once in a while, an email arrives that makes our work on this newsletter-  and the work of all Toastmaster leaders – all worthwhile. This short article from Hersh Kalles, President of Island Excellence Toastmasters,  is just such an inspiring email.  It features the ToastCrumbs from Island Excellence – it is incredible what they have done since Ted’s visit on January 22nd. Enjoy!


I wanted to take a moment out of our normal ToastCrumbs to recognize everything that our club has done recently and give kudos to all of you who made it happen. There are also some of you whom I have sent this email to because you have inquired about us in the past. Maybe you came once or maybe it just never happened but hopefully we will get a chance to meet you soon or see you again as there are some really wonderful things happening at Island Excellence Toastmasters and which I’d love to share with everyone below…

First off welcome to Simon who officially joined our club last night. Simon, Laura, Kat, Lou, Norman and Brad have all joined our club since February 1st and I believe that Shelly will be next! If we are really fortunate, we will also have Casey and Karen, two amazing and highly experienced Toastmasters join us again as well perhaps even as incoming members? 😉 For those of you receiving this email that have yet to take the leap. This is a great time to get involved as we have some many members of different backgrounds and experience levels and you would be able to come onboard with many people, who like you, are brand new to the Toastmasters experience. Plus our next 6 month membership dues renew in March so it’s an easy transition time to get started!

All this exciting growth in our club means that we have achieved the “Talk Up Toastmasters” Incentive which we accomplished by bringing on 5 new members between February 1st and March 31st. At this rate we may triple that expectation by the end of March. Michael & Alan… chock us up for our big win please!

At the meeting tonight we also gave out our brand new ribbons to new members
Laura, Brad and Norman for having done their ice breaker speech recently and while I know Lou missed this evening and was supposed to do his ice breaker, I imagine he will be back soon and achieve his first ribbon as well. I also had the pleasure of honouring Janice who received her competent communicator certificate for completing all 10 of her manual speeches!!! Time to get on those advanced manuals Janice, LOL!   ((Hersh presenting Janice with her Competent Communicator Award, left).  Finally I want to congratulate Charlotte as, only yesterday, I put in for her Advanced Communicator Bronze which means she completed her Competent Leadership Manual, performed 2 educational sessions, attended COT training, filled and executive position for at least 6 months and also participated in our clubs succession plan. Lots of hard work and a well deserved certificate on the way for you Charlotte.

Tonight’s meeting was abuzz with energy as Norman, exemplifying our commitment to full participation, stepped up to be Toastmaster this week even though he’s only been with us for 3 weeks and with Charlotte’s mentorship he did a fantastic job. It was a full meeting filled with 3 speeches. Dani started us off with her 2nd manual speech about the cat crisis and what we can do to help. Brad gave speech #9, also his second manual speech in only a few weeks, as he practiced for a work presentation on helping people with disabilities with their financial circumstances and then I “bravely” gave speech #4 in the persuasive speakers manual, which addressed the opposition, taking the often dismissed viewpoint that the net result of a Trump presidency could be a positive thing for the world. I believe I even opened up a few minds to a new perspective on what is happening with our neighbours to the south 😉

We had 2 guests, one who became a member last night (Simon) and the other was Janice’s very own husband, a once-upon-a-time Toastmaster who truly enjoyed our meeting and we hope to see him again next week at our club contest. Speaking of which NEXT WEEK IS OUR CLUB CONTEST. I believe we have one contestant for the International Speech contest so far and 4 people in our Evaluation contest. Ashawni is stepping up as our Chief Judge and Anne and Janice are co-chairing so if you are competing please email them and offer to help out. Timers, Ballot Counters, Sgt At Arms, Judges, are all roles that we need filled and if you have any questions about what those roles do don’t hesitate to ask them. Also please invite your friends, family and strangers off the street as it’s going to be an amazing night that’s unlike our regular meetings. Perhaps some of our past guests like Cody, Danny, Ami & Ben will make it out to see the spectacle themselves! EVERYONE IS WELCOME!

See you all next week… gotta go prepare my speech now!

Hersh Kalles





Toastmaster Contests: “To speak… or not to speak?” That is the question”

Submitted by Jamie MacDonald, DTM


Hamlet wondered about the value of life and the mysteries after death, with his “To be or not to be” soliloquy.

Toastmasters at this time of year wonder about overcoming a similar fear.  We ponder not just death and public speaking, but speaking in a contest!  That is a “life altering” experience to contemplate!

Many people step back, not forward, at contest time.  “Oh, I don’t do contests.”  “I am not competitive.” “I wouldn’t know what to speak about.”  “Contests are silly.”

If you are hanging on to these or similar beliefs, they might be robbing you of one of the greatest growth opportunities in the Toastmaster system.  I believe that contests have contributed to my growth as a speaker and a person, more than any other experience I have had in Toastmasters.

Contests helped me learn to run toward danger, not away from it.  No one wants a leader that runs away from problems or difficulties.  As emerging leaders, we need a laboratory, a simulation, where we intersect with fear safely.  Enroll in a contest and we show ourselves, more than anyone else, that we can access courage when we need it.  Courage, after all, is acknowledged as a key trait of leadership in life and business.

Contests reveal when I take myself too seriously.  What am I afraid of?  The Toastmaster audience is always warm, supportive and even forgiving, so that is not the issue.  Am I afraid of looking bad?  Forgetting my speech?  Or do I just hate losing?  Yes, all of these thoughts apply to me! 

These fears and emotions are evidence that my “self-focus” is out of balance.  This distressing condition can be cured with one thought: “Am I speaking for myself, or for others?

If I am thinking about myself, of course I am going to be overcome with nerves and avoid competing like the plague.  If I focus instead on the value of each person in the room, then I can’t wait to share a valuable message, to entertain with a story or encourage them.  I can be genuinely there for others.

Contests are my “growth on demand.”  Contests are self-improvement with a deadline!  Don’t you remember all those term papers and exams we had in school?  At the end of the course I often had mixed emotions: I was glad to have it over with, and I wished I had started earlier, because I learned so much!  What if there was no deadline?

There is nothing like a deadline to force me into action.  The day after participating in a contest you will look back and see how much the experience impacted you.  Your skill development is exponential compared to regular week by week Toastmaster activities.

Contests stretch us and bring out the best in us.  Ultimately, we volunteer to compete or we support others, by performing one of the many contest roles that make a great contest happen.  Both of these activities are essential for a healthy club and growing speakers.

See you in the contest!


The ACT of renaming COT

Submitted by Area 54 Director Leah Cheyne

When I saw the email from our District’s Quality Program Director, John Sherber, requesting assistance with changing the name of Club Officer Training, the first thing that traipsed across my mind was, “Why the push to change the name of Club Officer Training now?” Ever since I became a Club Officer the training has always been known as COT. I did not understand the point of the exercise.

Within seconds of this question floated another idea, and suddenly I saw his email for what it was. An opportunity, a challenge to make a small but significant change. It provided a chance to put on my creative cap and have a field day playing with acronyms. After all, what difference can three little letters make from three other little letters, right? With my computer on and ready to go, I sat down and thought about what COT means to me and what would sell me on the fact that attending these training meetings would be beneficial. Then I created some acronyms.

It struck me that MELE as our Toastmaster neighbours have called their training sessions is far too close to melee, and our district needs fewer melees, not more.  The main recurring thought that struck me was this: If you really want to change the acronym, then it should be changed to one with a positive vibe, something like UP, LIFT, ACT, or TURN. Something that indicates positive change through movement or action. In short, it needed to be motivational.

Accredited Club Training (ACT) was the only one that resonated with me when I finished brainstorming. On a professional level, it spoke to the very heart of the matter. We need club officers to know that their training matters to the health of our members, our clubs, and our district. It is a stepping stone to ensuring that we leave the district in better shape than when we entered into it. We need club officers to know that in exchange for eight hours of their precious time over a Toastmaster year, they would be working on their own leadership success and helping their club to receive credit towards the Distinguish Club Program.

“Now is the time for all club officers to ACT and help the clubs achieve distinguished status. Find out what it takes to make your club distinguished and get the resources you need to get your club there. Register now and don’t miss out!” I could see how changing three little letters could widen the range of promotional possibilities for advertising these events to Club Officers in our district. And then came this, “ACT for success because every Toastmaster deserves to be part of a Distinguished Club, their success starts with you, the Club Officer.”

Even though I thought it was the best acronym with the widest promotional possibilities it did not necessarily mean that everyone else would agree. At District Officer Training on February 11th, about 20 acronyms from all over the district were put on a board and the officers in attendance voted on the name change. It was great to see democracy at work.

Now I am looking forward to seeing exactly how this new name will be used in upcoming promotional material for the training sessions. May it be successful in obtaining the highest attendance rate for all our future ACTs as we all work together towards becoming a Distinguished District.

Editor’s note:   The contest  challenge went out at the Fall Conference, and the winner was picked  at DOT (District Officer Training).   Alan’s submission, HOPS-‘Helping Officers Prepare for Success’ set the bar, and the brainstorming session generated a flurry of highly creative possibilities.  Congratulations, Leah, for winning the $50 TI  incentive for your club.

GOTCHA! Caught in the Act of Leadership


Have you ever been part of a dream team that exuded passion, excitement and energy?  

Then you know it’s an amazing experience.  

In 2004, I co-chaired a highly motivated, committed 7-person team intent on raising funds for holistic treatments for a colleague diagnosed with Stage One Cancer.  Less than one month later, we had raised over $30,000.


There were no ‘buts’, or ‘what if’s’ when the team discussed ideas and plans.  It was only ‘how can we get this done” and “how soon’.  Once the team flew into action, resources, volunteers and donations flowed in. One goal, a passion for a shared vision, outstanding results. Awesome.   


Everyone should have the experience of being part of a Dream Team at least once in a lifetime.  The place to start is within ourselves.  Dream Team Players exemplify the Toastmaster values of Integrity, Service, Excellence and Respect, create excitement and have a lasting impact.


D21 is on a mission to bring back the glory days…the trio has a  shared vision, set a high bar of expectations, and brought in a master of inspiration all the way from Ireland to ramp it up some more.  The recent whirlwind tour with Ted Corcoran represents a momentum shift for us.  He asks each of us: “Are you ready to bring the buzz back?  Are you all fired up?  Are you ready to go?” It’s up to each of us to make it happen.


It’s true that we can do great things on our own, but a group of people committed to a shared vision is an awesome force (refer to story of the Goose).  It’s time to step up our game. The world is desperate for strong leaders.   Together, we can do more.  Together we’ve got what it takes to inspire the District and achieve our dreams.

How about using some  GOTCHA’s  to recognize and celebrate our great D21 leaders in the making who are doing the work to make it happen?



D21 Newsletter Coordinator, Ros Hansen DTM

Why should I care?

What’s the big deal about District 21 becoming Distinguished?  

How does membership affect me?   Consider Ted’s thought-provoking  story about a mouse.

The Mouse Trap

A mouse looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a mouse trap. Retreating to the barnyard the Mouse proclaimed the warning; “There’s a mouse trap in the house, a mouse trap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There’s a mouse trap in the house, a mouse trap in the house!” “I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse,” sympathized the pig, “but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow. She said, “Like wow, Mr. Mouse.  A mouse trap. I am in grave danger. Have you ever seen a cow caught in a mouse trap? Duh?” So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mouse trap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever.

Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the barnyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer’s wife did not get well.  She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a mouse in the house, the whole barnyard’s at risk.

Make the world a better place…show someone you care

February, the month of love…what better time to practice a key leadership skill: healthy relationship-building.    Great leaders show appreciation and compliment people for their efforts.  

Check out IQ vs. EQ  an article submitted to the May 2011 Toastmasters Magazine by Past  International President, Distinguished Toastmaster, Pat Johnson.  


You might also be interested in 5 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Is Critical For Leaders by Sara Fletcher.   Topics include Self Awareness, Emotional Management, Effective Communication, Social Awareness and Conflict Management.

Talking to Ted Corcoran, Past International President


“People have learned to talk. They have not learned to communicate. That’s why Toastmasters is so important.” It’s Ted Corcoran speaking, and he is very enthusiastic about his subject.


“Toastmasters has a well-established programme that has been proven successful over many years. It has evolved over time, and it helps us to communicate effectively, not just talk. I’ve done that basic Competent Communicator (CC) manual about ten times and each time I learn something new.  I consider CC projects Number Two and Three to be especially key; they contain so much that’s important. 


“I teach a course in ‘How to Write a Speech in Ten Minutes’. I tell people they must be able to encapsulate their purpose in one sentence. If you don’t have a purpose in your message it will go in one ear and out the other. The Toastmaster programme teaches you how to communicate effectively.


“The new Pathways programme, which is part of the changes within Toastmasters, gives us a way to incorporate speaking into leadership. This means the two are no longer separate – you can articulate what you’ve learned about leadership – for example you could give a speech about what you have learned about vision.


“Toastmasters has always invested in the future but you’ll have noticed that the manuals have changed only slightly over the years. With Pathways they are completely new and they fit into the modern world.  Another change has been our new computer system. It has made a huge difference all around the world. It makes things much easier for members and it has increased our membership. In 2004 we had 200,000 members in 10,000 clubs. Now, only a dozen years later, we have 360,000 members in 16,000 clubs.


“Part of building a strong organization is having strong and effective officers and continuity between them. It all comes down to the Nominating Committee at all levels – they have to come up with good candidates and tell the membership why this is a suitable person. You shouldn’t be electing anyone to the District level unless they have proven management experience. Strong candidates are important at both the District and the club level – the system is integrated.


“You’re lucky this year – District 21’s current team is working at a very high strategic level, and John and Michael are learning on their way up the sequence, watching those around them making informed decisions. This progression is important and everyone should be aware of it, so we’re marching together, all for one, one for all.


“It’s important that a District prepare leaders for the future, that’s why attending Club Officer Training is important. There and at the conferences you meet new people and hear new ideas. These events generate enthusiasm. In Kelowna I found a great turnout at the events and a hunger for Toastmasters but what the District needs is more new clubs. Now that people realize what needs to be done it might be possible to turn this corner.


“I belong to Toastmasters because I want to make the world a better place. The world would be better – don’t you think so – if we all contributed we met other positive people and we had fun. We can all share in making the world a better place Change your corner of the world and that makes the world a better place. Some people seem to stay in the background, almost invisible because they don’t believe in themselves. Toastmasters gives these people a voice so they can come forward and contribute and have fun too.


“Any change in the world depends on people. Belonging to a large organization gives us greater perspective and we find new ways and new ideas. This is true even at the club level; we meet new people and hear new ideas and this exposure gives us a bigger picture. We can see where we fit in and what we can do. If you don’t go outside your own little circle you don’t see that.


“I thought I had just joined Toastmasters, but look! I ended up International President! Where could you end up?”


Valerie Adolph DTM

Leadership: Motivational Moments

Personal leadership (i.e., leading myself, before I can lead others)

“Your life only gets better when you get better.”

“It doesn’t matter where you are coming from – all that matters is where you are going.”

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first.”

“You can learn anything you need to learn to achieve any goal you can set for yourself.”

“You are only as free as your options.”            

“Within every difficulty you face is the seed of an equal or greater benefit or opportunity.”

“The only real limits on what you can do are self-imposed.”

Submitted by Jamie MacDonald DTM — Quotes from various sources



Last Month’s Contest Winner

We challenged our readers to send us ideas for a new contest,and there were no takers.  Never fear, this month it will easier to win that coveted Starbucks gift card.


February was Banner Raid Month!  Why not share  some highlights about your banner raid experiences?  Send a short article, photo/s or video clip to letters@d21toastmasters.ca by the middle of the month, and we will post the results in April’s What’s the Buzz. Our panel of judges will be tasked with looking at the evidence, and making the decision about which club seemed to have drummed up the most excitement, had the most fun, or scored the best results in their banner raid adventures…and we will post the winner’s name here.
“In the event of a tie for any potential Winning Entry, we may award two winning entries, consider Relevance/Creativity/Originality as a tiebreaker, or ask a tie breaking Judge to apply the same Judging Criteria to determine the winner.


It must have been a real challenge…no one stepped up to the plate.   Never fear…it’s not too late to step up now and enter last month’s contest…it’s about a contest!



Send entries to  letters@d21toastmasters.ca. The deadline for entries is February 15, 2017.   Please specify “Bee Lucky Contest ” in the subject line.  The winner will be announced in the March newsletter and will win a $10 Starbucks card.  


“In the event of a tie for any potential Winning Entry, we may award two winning entries, consider Relevance/Creativity/Originality as a tiebreaker, or ask a tie breaking Judge to apply the same Judging Criteria to determine the winner.


Do you enjoy a creative challenge?  We’d love to hear from you if you have fun ideas for future Bee Lucky contests.  We are particularly interested in contests that are Toastmaster-related and have clearly defined goals with minimal potential for judging bias, so we can easily determine winning entries.