Giving feedback and evaluation are methods practised by Toastmasters: a non-profit educational organization that teaches leadership skills and public speaking through a club network.
Curious about how they worked, I attended some of their evaluation contests where members evaluate each other’s speeches. Criticism is not allowed, only constructive feedback and help, so the speaker can work out how to present their speech better.
As an experienced and competent public speaker, I believe everyone, including me, can find intelligent constructive feedback valuable and beneficial.
To give you an idea of how this works, let me give you some examples.
A few years ago, Peter, a friend whom I knew quite well, was sadly mourning the loss of his father. He had been asked to present the eulogy at the funeral and sought my help.
One of the issues Peter faced was, whilst the family was quite well-off, a lot of rivalry existed, particularly between him and his two brothers. Their relationship had deteriorated to the extent they were no longer on speaking terms.
He had prepared a speech which was naturally focused on his dad. I suggested he added some stories about times when he and his brothers were younger and had fun times with their father. This meant the speech became very emotional and tears made the delivery challenging.
Together we went over and over the speech, each time evaluating and improving it. One suggestion I made was for him to refer to his brothers by name, rather than saying “my brothers.”
Gradually, as we practised the speech many times over, the tears became under control. Our joint evaluation led to the final draft, including wonderful memories of happy times he and his brothers had shared with their dad.
At Peter’s request, I attended the funeral to give him some support. I sat in a prominent position so he could see me.
The eulogy was delivered without a hitch. Yes, you could pick up the emotion in his voice, but his speech was clear. He mentioned his brothers by name, pointing them out in the congregation as he did so.
His speech was received so well that he had a standing ovation, with everyone clapping. Quite unheard of at a funeral!
During the wake that followed, everyone was talking about the wonderful speech Peter had given. It had united the family again, and they remain that way to this day. Every time I see him, he is full of thanks for helping to reunite his family.
Coaching public speaking and mentoring is not a “one-fits-all” solution. It isn’t something you can teach “en masse.” Every person has individual reasons for wanting to speak in public.
Drilling down to why they want to do it and what type of speech they want to deliver are the building blocks we can start from. Through the process of practice and evaluation, we can work together to reach your goal.
Another coaching session that stands out in my mind is that of an elderly gentleman preparing a speech for his daughter’s wedding.
His nervousness caused him to fidget all the time and he was unable to control his emotions. These factors were inhibiting his ability to express himself clearly.
Through coaching and evaluation, he practised the speech to the point where he was able to deliver it while keeping his emotions and fidgeting under control.
These examples give you some insight into the way I believe coaching public speaking should be carried out. You can expect frequent evaluation and intelligent constructive feedback as we work to perfect your speech.