Feeding the Analytical Beast Within You

I wanted to win the district contest, but I did not take for granted that I would win at every stage of the contest.  Anyone of my competitors could have beat me, but they failed to feed the analytical beast within them. An evaluation contest has the following four areas to be judged on: Analytical Quality – 40pts, Recommendations – 30pts, Technique – 15pts, and Summation – 15pts. From what I observed they put too much emphasis on technique and too little on recommendation and summary sacrificing up to 45 points – almost half of their points!

I fed my analytical beast and I’m going to tell you how to feed your analytical beast.  By feeding this beast, you could win an evaluation contest. But more importantly, you will liven up your own skills and breath new life into others.  These skills can carry over into your relationships, work, and volunteering.

So what is feeding the analytical beast? It is putting yourself into a rigorous (careful, attentive, accurate, meticulous) mindset that concentrates on keen (sharp, discerning, astute, perceptive) observations and on invigorating (fortify, rejuvenate, energize, liven up, breath new life into) the person being evaluated.

How and what do we feed the analytical beast?

A Rigorous Raspberry Mindset

  • Objectives – the speech assignment?  Read the manual questions.  What does the speaker want you to look for?  Remind yourself of the objective of an evaluation – to help and encourage.
  • Build a bank of suggestions.  E.g. Can you say it in one sentence?  Rehearse in front of a friend or family member.  Emphasize words – vocal variety.
  • Find ways to be better or different in your evaluations.  I have Googled “toastmaster evaluation” and found websites, blogs, etc. that have offered many good ideas.
  • Stretch your evaluation vocabulary – E.g. instead of ‘good’ use captivating.  Instead of ‘awesome’ (is it really awesome? Bill Cosby is awesome, but is this speaker Bill Cosby quality?) use very well prepared.  Instead of ‘great’ use ‘your dynamics were definitely better than you last speech’.

Keen Kiwi Observations

  • Be attentive.  Posture, listening, focus; don’t get sidetracked.
  • Understand their level. Are they a new speaker or a seasoned one?  How will that affect your evaluation?
  • Good & bad. This is the obvious thing to look for – what are they doing right and where can they improve?
  • Look for what is missing or un-obvious
  • Jot lots of notes in short phrases.  While listening I write a lot of short phrases or quotes that I can return to and refine later on.  I make it a point to make as many observations as I can.  I can sift through them later, getting rid of lesser ones and expanding on more important observations.

An Invigorating Icy Delivery

  • Be sincere: don’t grandstand, flatter, or whitewash.  Show that you care.
  • Don’t offend, attack, or discourage
    • Use “I” statements – these are your observations and not the groups.
    • Don’t use “should” and be careful with the word “you”.
  • Focus on the delivery and not the content; an evaluation is not a chance to share your opinion on the subject; it is pointless to paraphrase the speech.
  • Demonstrate when you can – vocal variety, gestures, etc.
  • Be positive, specific, and constructive
    • E.g. “your content was hard to believe” –vs- “quoting your source can add credibility to your message, like ‘I found this trivia on encyclopedia britanicca’s website’”
  • To invigorate you must use a sandwich
    • Good, Bad, Good – I used this one for years.
    • Good, Improve, Recommendation, Summary – tried this one during the competition and thought I would lose
    • Good, Improve, Recommendation, Positive Summary
  • Commendation (1 or 2 items + why), Recommendation (1 or 2 items + why + how), Commendation (item + why) [By Kim Chamberlain, 2002 District 72 Evaluation Champion…]
    • intro
    • 2nd best commendation
    • 3rd best commendation
    • recommendation #1
    • recommendation #2
    • 1st best commendation
    • summary

Be rigorous.  Be keen.  Be invigorating.  And let the analytical beast come out in you!

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