According to Kyle Hall, Past District Director, DTM and long time teacher of evaluations skills, the 3 most common evaluation mistakes are:

Repeating the Speech
Many evaluators make the mistake of repeating or summarizing the speech we just heard.  Our job is evaluating the speech, not repeat it.  Our focus should be mostly on how the talk was delivered, rather than the content.  Reviewing out loud the content or flow of the speech usually only makes sense if the evaluator has a suggestion for improving the speech’s structure.  If we don’t have such a suggestion, we should focus most of our attention on how the deliver worked for us or what the speaker could do to make the delivery work better for us. 

White Washing
While being common to new evaluators, I’ve seen seasoned evaluators who occasionally fail to give any suggestions for improvement.  This is called a “white wash”.  It happens when the presenter is so good he or she sucks the evaluator in, along with the rest of the audience.  We fail to keep the emotional objectivity required to evaluate the talk.  It also happens when the evaluator is so new they don’t yet have the experience to offer a suggestion for improvement.  On rare occasions we also find an evaluator who is so terrified they’ll say something the speaker will become angry at, they are unwilling to “risk” giving a suggestion.

What can the evaluator do when faced with an upcoming evaluation and no idea on how to improve the speech?  Ask for help.  Send around a note to a seasoned member of your club and ask them if you can call on them during the evaluation.  Ask them for any ideas they might have on how the speaker can improve the talk.

The opposite of a “white wash”, a “slam” is when the evaluate only gives suggestions for improvement and fails to mention anything the speaker did well.  It is my opinion that this condition usually arises in evaluators who have grown their analytical skills to the point where they suddenly have lots of suggestions for improvement.  They becomes so enthused at the idea of offering as many “helpful suggestions” as possible, they fail to realize they are making their own feedback unpalatable and unacceptable.  

Speakers need to be encouraged to come back and speak again.  They need to hear what they did well, as well as suggestions for improvement.  When an evaluator offers only suggestions, speakers can leave feeling discouraged or disheartened.  Worst still, if the evaluator persists in only offering suggestions and nothing positive, the club members will stop listening to them.

Want to learn more about evaluating, attend the Better Evaluating workshop on Saturday, Sept 28th.