How to Evaluate Speeches Effectively

I’ve been in the Ann Arbor Toastmasters and Friends Club for 2 years. It’s Fall and that means it’s speech contest time again. In the Fall it’s for Table Topics & Humorous speeches, while in the Spring is the International Speech and the Evaluators Contests. Toastmasters has been key in improving my communication skills. Having better communication skills has changed my whole approach to EVERYTHING. But this is another topic. Today, I’d like to review questions that help one evaluate a speech better. Or, if you flip this on it’s head, here is a list of questions to think about in preparing your speech. This doesn’t apply only to Toastmaster speeches, but this list will help anyone improve their speaking engagements and audience response.

Over all general questions:

  • What is the objective of the speech?
  • What is the primary purpose?
  • Did they achieve this goal?

Introduction:

  • Was the introduction appropriate to the speech and audience?
  • Was it appropriate to the audience size and target?
  • Was the opening effective, did it have a hook?
  • Did it clearly establish the intent of the speech?
  • Was it memorable?

Body:

  • Was the body of the speech focused?
  • Were there statistics to support arguments?
  • Did they use metaphors and symbolism?
  • Was it organized logically?
  • Did the transitions flow smoothly?

Conclusion:

  • Was the conclusion concise?
  • Was it memorable?
  • Was there a call to action?

Delivery Skills:

  • Was the speaker enthusiastic? How did that show?
  • If there was audience interaction, was it effective?
  • Was the stage used appropriately?
  • If humor was used, was it appropriate and effective? Relevant?
  • If there were visual aids – how effective were they?
  • Posture, were they confidence and poised?
  • Were gestures natural and timely?
  • Were there any distracting mannerisms?
  • Was the speaker easy to hear?
  • How about eye contact?
  • Were soft and loud variations used appropriately?
  • How was the pace?
  • Was the language easy to understand?
  • Were rhetorical devices used? (Repetition, alliteration, the rule of three)

Intangibles for overall evaluation:

  • How did it make me feel?
  • Was I convinced?
  • Would I want to listen to this speaker again?