June 17, 2012

Toastmaster Roles: General Evaluator

If you've never been to Toastmasters, you'll be surprised at how much evaluation takes place. Yes, the speakers get evaluated. There's also a General Evaluator who comments on the overall meeting and the key roles.


Members have different roles each time. There are detailed instructions for every role (including General Evaluator). Follow them and you'll do well. The key roles are
  • Chair
  • Table Topics Master
  • Viewpoint/Debate/Lesson Master
  • Toastmaster
When you first get a key role, you may feel unprepared but you're probably ready. In Goodyear Toastmasters, the VP of Education assigns the roles a month in advance. That allows time to get ready. If you still don't feel ready, you can decline.


When you attend a club meeting, you know how it went. Still, it's fascinating to see the General Evaluator give the “official” review. All attendees benefit, especially guests. As Yogi Berra said, we can observe a lot just by watching. As our awareness grows, we get better just by watching. We learn without having to make the same mistakes.

First Time

I was in my club for over six months before I became General Evaluator the first time. This week, I had the role again. My suggestions included the following:
  • put down your pen: one person held a pen and transferred it from hand to hand while speaking. This was unintentional but distracting.
  • the order of speakers: we heard speech 6 then 10 then 3 from the Competent Communicator manual. The normal order would be 3, 6, 10 since the most junior speaker starts first. There was a reason for the switch but this didn't seem fair to the speakers or audience.
  • the effect of room size: we were in huge council chambers on raised seats arranged in a semi-circle. A larger room requires more energy and volume. The podium and each seat had a microphone but members were not using them. They lost an opportunity to get familiar with the equipment. When I explained this, I used the microphone.
A different General Evaluator would may have made different points.

In case you’re wondering, the General Evaluator also gets evaluated several times as part of the Competent Leadership manual.

Promod Sharma was General Evaluator this week. He blogs at Riscario Insider.

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