Table Topics Evaluator
The Table Topic Evaluator is the first evaluation at an Early Bird meeting and often the first evaluation that our guests will receive of their speaking skills. The Table Topic Evaluator must be as educational and encouraging as a Speech Evaluator, with the added challenge of having very little time to prepare their evaluation and multiple short speeches to observe.
The skills developed as an evaluator are transferable to professional and personal contexts when providing constructive feedback to team members or colleagues.
- Be prepared to offer evaluations for up to 12 speakers
- Think about how you will structure your note taking on the morning. Remember that you’ll have very little time to prepare during the meeting – only the few minutes between the end of the Table Topic Session and being called to the stage after the vote! One suggestion is to have one notecard per speaker each with a commendation and recommendation column.
- Review previous Table Topics on Early Bird TV – What would you commend and recommend?
- Think about evaluations that you have received in the past. What was good about them (or not!)? How would you like to receive feedback?
On the day
- Arrive by 6:45AM!
During the Topics
- Watch and listen to the speakers. What did they do well and what feedback could you give them that would help them be even better?
- Think about key learning points from the projects that you have undertaken so far and notice if the speaker does or does not do them e.g. as speech organisation, right word selection, variety of pace and pitch of delivery, body language, structure.
- Try to observe as broad a range of techniques and skills as you can to keep your evaluation varied.
Delivering your feedback
You will have approximately 30 seconds per speaker for feedback. Here are some ideas for delivering a table topic evaluation:
- If using the “C-R-C” structure: Commendation, Recommendation, Commendation; that’s roughly 10 seconds for each element. Be selective and succinct with your comments.
- Pace your time to ensure that everyone gets to hear your feedback.
- C-R-C isn’t mandatory, you may prefer to simply make a series of generalised observations and strong suggestions.
- Always look for a recommendation for every speaker. If you can’t think of one – try issuing a challenge. What could they try that you haven’t seen them do before?
- Deliver feedback in the third person e.g. “I felt that Pauline did this…” rather than “You did this”; or “I felt that you did this”.’ Speaking in the first or second person when giving an evaluation can put the speaker on the defensive. The other reason that the third person is preferable is that you are addressing the whole audience so that it is not just the speaker who learns from the evaluation – everyone does.
- Avoid speaking for the whole audience “we all thought the topic had great vocal variety”, “we were all moved by the speech” – audiences’ opinions and perceptions vary so some will not think and feel the same way that you do. The Speaker is also freer to accept or reject your suggestions.
- Evaluations are just your personal opinion so don’t worry about giving a “wrong” answer – it is not an exam for the evaluator or speaker.
- Feedback should always be supportive and warm, fair and honest.
After the meeting
- If you wrote down other commendations or recommendations for speakers that you didn’t get to a chance deliver on stage, they may appreciate your taking the time to share those comments with them directly.