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What does an Evaluator do?

The main purpose of the Evaluator role is to provide constructive and encouraging feedback that helps the speaker to improve their speaking skills and confidence.

The main responsibilities of an Evaluator are:

  • To read out the objectives for the speech if/when prompted by the Toastmaster
  • To make notes during the speech and prepare their evaluation
  • To deliver the evaluation itself within the time allowed (usually 2-3 minutes)

Prior to the meeting

Familiarise yourself with the speech project

Find out who you are evaluating and which speech project they will be delivering.

Make sure you are familiar with that project by reading the appropriate section from the Competent Communicator’s manual – in particular the Evaluation Guide page which tells you what to look out for and includes sections for you to complete afterwards.

Bring a small notebook and some small cards (e.g. 3×5) with you to the meeting for note-taking and organising your evaluation.

Upon arrival at the meeting

Introduce yourself to the speaker

Locate the speaker before the start of the meeting and introduce yourself. Ask for their Competent Communicator manual so that you can complete it after the meeting.

Also ask if there are any areas – in addition to those covered by the speech objectives – that they would like you to pay particular attention to.

For example, they might want you to look out for “umms” and “ahhs” because this is something that was highlighted in a previous evaluation.

During the meeting

Take notes

Listen carefully to the speaker’s presentation, keeping the objectives of the speech project clearly in mind.

Keep your notes brief and to the point. Remember, you are not trying to produce a complete summary of the speech – simply to pick out specific points that you might include in your evaluation. Do not become so engrossed in your notes that you end up missing much of the speech!

Some evaluators find it helpful to split their rough notes into categories covering different elements of speech.

One popular version is:

  • What I saw (body language, eye contact, use of the stage, etc.)
  • What I heard (content, pace, vocal variety, etc.)
  • What I felt (emotions inspired by the speech)

Another approach is: Content, Structure, Delivery.

Prepare your evaluation

After the speech – but before you are required to give your evaluation – there will be some time to structure and rewrite your rough notes. Usually this will be in the break between the first and second half of the meeting.

Although it is tempting to work on your evaluation straight away, it can be distracting (and demotivating) for subsequent speakers if you are furiously writing up your notes during their speeches.

Deliver your evaluation


It is customary to begin your evaluation with an introduction which reminds us that the focus is on the speaker, for example:

Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, welcome guests and most importantly John…”

If the objectives have not already been read out, remind the audience very briefly of these and mention anything else that the speaker asked you to look out for.

Recommended Struture

The recommended structure for evaluations is the “sandwich” approach, where recommendations (i.e. suggestions for areas to improve) are sandwiched between commendations (i.e. positive comments).

In a nutshell, start on a very positive note highlighting those areas you thought worked well; then discuss aspects which didn’t work so well (and why) together with your recommendations; then finish on a big positive point to end things on a high.

If you choose a different organisation for your evaluation, for example dealing with “content”, “structure” and “delivery” separately, then try to use the sandwich method within each section for packaging any recommendations.

In your summary, try to link back to the speech objectives and say to what extent you felt the speaker met the objectives.

Try not to fall into the trap of summarising the speech in your evaluation – your job is to evaluate the speech – not recap it. Use the (limited) time to give feedback that will help the speaker improve.
How to address the speaker

Throughout your evaluation the preferred way of addressing the speaker is in the third person – this helps the whole audience to feel engaged.

For example, addressing the room as a whole you might say “I thought John used humour very effectively”. This is better than addressing John directly with “I thought you used humour very effectively”.

Don’t worry if you occasionally slip back into “you” – it takes a bit of practice before this third person form becomes natural and it’s certainly not a disaster if you forget it from time to time.
How to phrase your feedback

Make your comments personal (to you) and specific (to the speech). For example: “When Peter spoke about his train journey the description was so vivid I felt as though I was sitting right next to him!”

When making recommendations it is best to focus on what could be done in future to improve rather than criticising what was done in the past.

So instead of “John should have paused more” you could say “I would invite John to make more use of pauses in future”.

And rather than “Susan didn’t look at the audience enough” you could say “I would encourage Susan to work on her eye contact in her next speech”.

While an evaluator should always highlight good points and offer encouragement, he or she must also indicate areas for improvement, otherwise the speaker will not benefit in full. However, evaluations for early speeches – and particularly the Ice Breaker – should be strongly biased towards encouragement, with perhaps just one or two gentle recommendations.

After the meeting

Complete the Evaluation Guide

It is your responsibility to complete the evaluation guide for the relevant speech project in the speakers Compentent Communicator manual.

Once you have done this hand the manual back and make some time to discuss your evaluation with the speaker. Do they have any questions?