Winner of the D21 Evaluation Contest, 2017

“I lucked out when I joined Kelowna AM Toastmaster club” Wade Paterson said. “There’s a great amount of talent there, such accomplished speakers. They show you something to aspire to, yet they are not intimidating. They encouraged me right from the beginning. The club observes the Toastmaster formalities, but yet it has a casual feel. We have lots of laughter, teasing, joking.”

Wade joined Kelowna AM Toastmasters in November 2015 because he wanted to take the stress out of the frequent presentations he had to give as part of his job at the head office of Remax Western Canada. Along with a co-worker he came to Toastmasters to hone his skills and to become a more effective speaker. 

Part of his learning to become a more effective speaker came from observing other speakers and learning from experienced evaluators. This education culminated in Wade’s winning the District 21 Evaluation contest at the recent Spring Conference.

Wade tries to organize his evaluation by offering comments on three aspects of a speech that were done well, one or two ideas for improvement and a summary that reiterates what he has said. Almost always he will offer specific examples of the points he is making. He likes to focus on body language and vocal variety. The rest, he says, is mostly about the topics covered in the Competent Communicator (CC) manual, noticing what the speaker needs to work on and improve.

“It’s a challenge, to find the appropriate evaluation, whether the speaker is new or advanced. I try to tailor advice very specifically so that I leave the speaker feeling inspired and wanting to prepare another speech. I feel for new speakers; I remember my nerves before my Ice Breaker. I try to leave each speaker I evaluate feeling motivated.

“One thing I’ve noticed is that some people try to power through that CC manual quickly. This means their growth may not keep up. I suggest that they respect that first manual more and give their speech preparation more time, not doing last minute planning.

“In the contest the test speaker, Rob Evans from District 96, was such an elite speaker, it was difficult to find areas to suggest where he could improve. His body language was incredibly effective, he engaged the audience, injected humour in all the right places and his speech was expertly organized.

“His speech was so strong – as I watched it I was thinking ‘What can I tell him to work on?’ He had no glaring weaknesses so I had to be more nitpicky. I acknowledged his strengths and gave him a couple of minor suggestions for improvement. When I walked off the stage I felt I had given it my best effort. I was proud of my performance whether I won or not. It was an incredible feeling to win a District award. Hearing my name called out was the highlight of my Toastmaster career to date.

“I feel that Toastmasters has given me a lot, so in the next year I’m going to look at ways I can give back through leadership opportunities within the club.”

Submitted by Valerie Adolph