Archive for November 2006

How Many Feet are in an Apple?

November 14, 2006


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I had my first job as evaluator, last night.

In some ways, this is even more nerve-racking than speaking. I was evaluating Muryel, one of our most entertaining speakers. I knew I’d be given 2 mintues at the end of the night to give a complete and interesting account of how she performed.

And there’s the crunch – it’s someone else’s speech you are talking about. You don’t know what the speech will be about beforehand, so you can’t really prepare.

In my case, I did know the speech number Muryel was speaking from, so that meant I could look at the notes before the speech. Her main speech objectives were to use body language well to convey the message.

At the start of the meeting, I asked if there was something in particular she wanted me to watch out for. She said the timing was her biggest concern.

Muryel’s speech title was “How many feet are in an Apple?” She talked about how far your fruit travels before it gets to you, and the impact this has on your “carbon footprint”.

Before the speech, I took a blank sheet of paper and wrote the key speech objectives as single words, taken from the Toastmasters programme notes. Then, as she was speaking, I made points beside each of these words on the page. As soon as she did or said something that matched one of the objectives, I’d link the points with the objective and write brief notes. Then I highlighted important points with a circle or star.

At the end of the night, I stood up when called upon and went through each of Muryel’s objectives in turn, describing how she’d done, and giving examples. 2 minutes isn’t a lot of time, so I kept it simple.

Before the evening, one of our members had recommended I:

  • Say something complementary
  • Give a single suggestion for improvement
  • Close with another complement

That was good advice, and I stuck to it. I started by talking about some of her more successful points, talked for a bit about how to improve and then closed on some more of her accomplishments.

In the end, I think I covered most of it, though I did forget to comment on her timing (which she’d asked for).

Muryel gave a great speech (she won the vote), and I think this made my job easier, though it meant it was hard to find some constructive suggestion or advice for her.