Speech evaluations

Strategic openings for speech evaluations – Part II

Speech evaluations are just three minutes long. Opening an evaluation with generic statements like “Wow your speech was wonderful”, “I loved you speech today” or “It was a pleasure listening to your speech TM Name” is therefore an immediate turn off.

Sadly, this is what happens more often than not. Speech evaluators on many occasions start with such openings and proceed to list one by one things they liked about the speech. Clearly not a great approach.

A better way to start speech evaluations is to give it an opening that elates the speaker and sets the stage for listing commendations simultaneously. Let’s look at three techniques that can help you achieve this.

Great openings for speech evaluations
Great openings for speech evaluations

FIRST TECHNIQUE: Use words / phrases directly from the speech to open your evaluation – A good opening strategy is to use words, phrases or concepts the speaker uses in his / her speech and weave it strategically into your opening. This strategy will help you capture the attention of the speaker, General Evaluator and other club members as well. Let’s see how to do so with examples.

Example 1 – Imagine a speaker delivers a speech on the subject of air pollution. The speaker mentions how air pollution has been rising rapidly since the invention of car calling it a plague. Here’s how the evaluator here can begin his speech – “Fellow Toastmasters undoubtedly the world is plagued by air pollution. TM Name’s speech rightly showed us how far pollution levels have come since the invention of car and along the way I couldn’t help marvel how far TM Name has come as a public speaker. I was spellbound by the effective usage of his hand gestures today ….”

Notice this technique has multiple advantages.

  1. It’s far better than a mediocre opening like “I loved your speech.”
  2. By quoting something directly from the speaker’s speech, it demonstrates your listening skills.
  3. You can easily move into listing the commendations right after the opening rather than following up “I love your speech” with another wasted line like “Let me tell you what I loved about your speech”

Example 2 – Imagine a speaker who delivers an ice breaker recounting his experience growing up in rural India. Here’s how an evaluator may begin – “From growing up in a small village in Rajasthan to narrating a captivating nostalgic story of your journey, you have truly come a long way. TM Name you amazed me with your wonderful usage of voice modulation today.

SECOND TECHNIQUE: Ask a question related to the topic – Asking a question the answer to which has already been given by the speaker in his/ her speech is a great way to bring to focus the central idea of the speech right at the beginning. Let’s learn with some examples how to achieve this.

EXAMPLE 1 – Let’s say the speaker delivers an informative speech about the stars in the night sky. Here’s how the evaluator may begin his speech – “Why do stars twinkle? TM Name taught us this and many other interesting things today in what can only be described as a five star speech. You amazed me with your …

The benefit of this approach is that apart from giving your evaluation a great beginning, you have also put the speaker on a high note by applauding his choice of topic as an intelligent one.

EXAMPLE 2 – Imagine a speaker delivers a story about a personal loss. Here’s how the evaluator may choose to begin his speech – “How do you deal with a loss? TM Name’s speech today was a brilliant guide to learning that and an even better one about storytelling. Like a good story teller she used voice modulations to ….

THIRD TECHNIQUE: A third way to open any evaluation is to have standard opening lines that can be used in any speech no matter the content or the speaker. This can be especially helpful for new evaluators or in those rare instances when you couldn’t hear the speech very well due to technical glitches. Let’s look at some examples.

  1. A story is only as good as it is told and TM Name told us a not just good but wonderful story today.
  2. It is said that knowledge is power and TM Name you have made us all powerful today by sharing great knowledge through your speech.
  3. Great stories happen to those who can tell them and TM Name perfectly demonstrated the truth in these words today.

Evaluations with such openings are bound to capture the interest of your listeners and have them waiting for more. So the next time you volunteer for speech evaluation, don’t forget to dazzle your audience right at the beginning with a great opening. 

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