GCI: Speech Club – Evaluation, Business, Tabletopics

Here’s How to Evaluate

The whole purpose of the evaluator is to help the speaker.

Talk directly to the person you are evaluating in an earnest appeal to help the speaker improve. Be interested in the growth of the speaker – get this interest through prayer. Be sure this shows in sincerity and humility.

You usually know ahead of time that you are going to evaluate a particular speaker, so pray about the evaluation ahead of time, asking God to give you insight to see how you can best help the person improve.

Be positive

Do not approach the evaluation negatively. Don’t just tear the speech apart. Hold up a mirror that reflects the impression the speaker has made on you as a representative of the entire audience. Don’t pick on little, unimportant points. Activate your mind to get to the core of the speaker’s difficulty. Try to find one central point – the major thing that needs to change.

Describe the effect the speaker’s problem has on the audience – why the problem is a problem. Get at the cause. For example, if the speaker lacks eye contact, try to determine why the eye contact is missing. It may be the result of fear. If you can see this, then you should encourage the individual to see and overcome this core of the problem, and not just harp on the lack of eye contact.

Think big. Think helpful.

Know the answer

Clearly define and propose an answer to the problem you see. Be specific – give concrete, practical advice. Sometimes it is easy to say what is wrong, but difficult to explain how to overcome. It is best to have the solution, but if you do not, still present the problem, because someone else may be able to help – what you say may inspire a comment from the overall evaluator.

Giving a purposeful, helpful, interesting evaluation is one of the most challenging demands of the entire program. No one likes to admit to a weakness. It is your duty to help build the speaker’s ability in this area by pointing out the errors that were made and convincing the person of the need to change, while simultaneously conveying your confidence that the speaker can and will do it.

Discovering the strong points of the speaker and pointing these out is equally important. Take into account the total personality of the individual. Consider the person’s background and speech training, especially. You are going to be speaking about someone in front of an audience. Never humiliate – always help.

Prepare in advance

Your preparation for an evaluation should be far more extensive than just listening for six minutes to the speech. You need to be primed ahead of time and concentrating for the entire speech to find what will be most helpful to the speaker.

An old proverb says, “We see only what we are looking for!” Therefore it’s important that you outline a number of things to took for before the speech begins. Don’t just hope you will notice something that you can talk about for two minutes to fill your evaluation time.

How to prepare

You can prepare for your evaluation by having a number of points written on a piece of paper ahead of time. Each speech that is given aims at performing a specific function outlined by a lesson in the manual. First, find out what speech goal your speaker has. Second, read the instructions the manual gives regarding this speech lesson as well as the directions to the evaluator given at the close of each lesson. Third, ask the speaker if there is anything you should watch for. Write the key word of these points down first. These notes will remind you what to look for, as well as organizing your delivery when you give the evaluation.

For instance, if your speaker is giving Lesson Five “Get the Facts,” you would put that down at the top of your notes, with the following words on one side with room for comment after each: Pertinent? True? Proved? Organized, thoughtful presentation of the truth? Lively? Interesting?

Also note whether past speech lessons have been effectively applied in this speech. Be sure that the speaker giving Lesson Five has purpose, and that the purpose is brought out with crystal clarity in an interesting and colorful manner – thus fulfilling Lessons Two, Three and Four as well as Lesson Five.

Evaluate the total speech

Put down the word introduction. As the speaker launches into the talk, choose a word or two that will describe the introduction. Did it arouse attention and interest? Was it too long, misleading and apologetic – or enthusiastic and striking?

Next, put down specific purpose statement. Was it purposeful and clear, giving a good idea of what the speaker was going to talk about, or was it misleading and inappropriate or perhaps missing entirely?

Put down the word body. Were the main points clearly defined, properly emphasized and logically developed, or vague and misapplied, lacking supporting material and authoritative, substantiating proof? If audio or visual aids were used, were they effectively employed or distracting? Was the transition from one point to the next clear and easy to follow, organized and logical, or was each point given as a disjointed segment of a disorganized whole?

Giving a purposeful, helpful, interesting evaluation is one of the club’s most challenging demands.

Write down conclusion. Did the whole speech lead to a logical conclusion? Was there a summary of the main points, an appeal to action, a climax demanding action on the main purpose, or was the end left hanging as an unanswered question in the minds of the audience? Did the speaker leave any questions that were posed in the introduction or specific purpose statement section unanswered? Did the speech just run out of steam because it lacked a planned conclusion?

Note the following aspects that cover the main portions of any speech. Your speaker’s key problem may lie in one of these: Platform – eye contact – posture – gestures – movements – voice – grammar – effect on the audience – power – sincerity.

Organize your speech of evaluation

After you have written a brief comment on any of these points you feel is necessary, you should organize your speech of evaluation. What you say must be as organized as any speech. But do not make this speech of evaluation a big show. This is not your big chance to impress the audience with how well you can evaluate. The accent must be on helping the speaker.

Fit your evaluation into this basic framework:

  1. Encourage first, by bringing out the good points – what the speaker can capitalize on, grow and build on. Jesus, in his letters of evaluation and correction to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, gives encouragement first: “I know your works,” before he brings out the correction. If you noticed good points and marked these after some of the key points you listed on the left-hand side of your evaluation paper, circle two or three of them and draw a line to the top of your paper with a big number 1, and make any added comments. Begin your evaluation with these comments.
  2. Then bring out what is wrong. Here’s where you need to define the main weak point. Bring it out clearly, conscientiously, sincerely. Be personal and direct. Be sure not to have more than two or three points in this section of your evaluation, because giving too much to overcome all at once may discourage a speaker. Circle the key weak points that you noted and draw a line to a large number 2. Analyze these points and quickly get to the core of why they are a problem.
  3. Give one concrete suggestion the speaker can use to overcome the difficulty. Circle this suggestion and draw a line to a large number 3. The more specific, the better. Perhaps refer to some section of the manual that should be reviewed or to another club member who has overcome the particular difficulty this speaker has. Be personal here, too, even using your own example if it applies (and it does not point out how good you are).
  4. Last, put a large number 4 on your paper with a word or two to inspire you to exhort, with real, intimate and direct zeal, this speaker to use your advice. Let the speaker know that you support the speaker, that everyone in the club is supportive, that you are all cheering for further success, and that you are confident that success is attainable with further effort.

The purpose of your evaluation is to help the speaker, so make your suggestion crystal clear. Your main point must be inescapable. Add color, and your speaker will even enjoy your evaluation. Get the facts. Don’t just ramble and generalize. Have specific examples to back up your statements. Stir your speaker to action.


Stand up and address the toastmaster, the group and the individual you are going to evaluate. Be honest with the speaker. Bear down with your evaluation straight from the shoulder. Be open and sincere, with no sarcasm. Use love to help the person.

Caution: Do not make fun of the speaker. Ridicule is only a cover-up for your own ignorance or inattention. This extreme of making the speaker the butt of a few of your jokes will get a good audience reaction – it’s easy to laugh at others’ discomfort – but it is unchristian.

However, don’t be super-sober. Humor may be used, even good-natured kidding, where the audience and the speaker can enjoy it. But always remember that the purpose of this humor must be to help the speaker. It must obviously come from love – not to glorify your part of the program.

Use Evaluation Slips

Evaluation slips can help you and other club members know what interests and moves people most effectively. How do you impress other members of the club? Can you stir others to action? Are you alive and alert? You need to know the answers to these questions.

Each club member’s effectiveness depends on how well a speech can move and influence people. Much depends on being alert, alive and energetic. As a speaker, it is your duty to help your neighbor develop these qualities as you develop them yourself.

Perfect these attributes by using a very simple device: the evaluation slip.

Evaluate the total program

Your growth into an effective speaker depends on how much you can learn from every part of the club program. This is where using the evaluation slips comes in.

Inattentive listeners merely mark the square of the best speaker, best evaluator, most improved speaker, etc., on impulse. They may make their choice the last speaker, or the speaker whose name they can best remember. Don’t let this happen to you.

Use the evaluation slips. This will keep you alert during the entire program. You will learn to analyze the techniques that move people. At the end of the program, the speaker can look at the comments that all the club members have made and see how the speech influenced each person. You help yourself and the participants in spotting techniques of effective speaking.

The business session

This is where you begin to analyze the program for the evening. Be alert – remain alert. Ask yourself: “How does the president handle the business session? Is it smooth?”

Analyze club needs and suggest ways and means of accomplishing them. Are you able to understand each proposal? Why was each made? What will each accomplish?

Jot down points of help for each participant on the evaluation slips. Make notes in your own notebook of what is really needed and bring it up during the next session.


Understand what subjects interest the club members. Why are some subjects thought-provoking, and others dull, trite and dry? Does the topicsmaster present the topics logically and clearly? What about the audience? Are the answers interesting? Do you enjoy listening to the responses? Do you want to make a response? Why are you interested?

Keep a list of captivating subjects in your notebook – you can use them some day when you present topics. Jot down comments of help for the tabletopics presenter and for those who responded.


How does the toastmaster handle the program? Is there a logical unity in the presentation? Is it sparkling and alive? Does the toastmaster introduce the speakers properly? Does the presentation make you want to hear each speaker?

Jot down hints of improvement on the slip. Help the toastmaster see how the introductions affected the entire club. Make note of the effectiveness – and the reasons – in your notebook for future reference when you will be introducing the speakers.

Speaking portion

Search out the good points and attributes of speech delivery. Don’t be duped and dazzled with vain oratory. Recognize a sincere, effective, sound message.

Don’t overlook logic. Emotion is not enough. A speaker should move you with emotion – but convince you with reason, fact and logic.

Help each speaker be more effective. Write down points of aid on the evaluation slip. Make all the speakers aware of their strong and weak points.

Speech evaluations

Does each evaluator pinpoint the main problem of each speaker? Does the evaluator present criticism in a constructive, helpful, moving way? Was there any clear insight? Does each evaluator give proper encouragement?

Help each evaluator see how to improve in evaluating. Mark down points of help on the evaluation slip. Enter the principles of good technique and sound, penetrative analysis of speechmaking in your notebook.

Be alert. Use these slips. Daydreaming during the club is a waste of your time and a disservice to other members. Take notes on every portion of the meeting. This will help you recall good points you can use when you are handling those portions.

Speakers, read the comments on the evaluation slips at the end of the meeting.

New Business Procedure

The purpose of the business session is to allow the members to discuss items concerning the functions and activities of the club. These would include ideas for special meetings, occasional club outings, the financial needs of the club, dues and other topics that concern the club.

The business session should be formal, streamlined and useful. Often there will be no business to discuss at a meeting. In these instances the president should go on to tabletopics right after the reading of the minutes.

The business session offers an excellent opportunity to learn to express your opinions about the various items that will be brought up. Do not be a “sheep” in the business session. If a suggestion is brought up that you are opposed to, do not hesitate to give your viewpoint, even if the majority of the club seems in favor of adopting it.

Certain subjects are not appropriate for discussion in the business session. Included in this category are projects concerning the needs of the church and the members – those are the responsibility of the local minister and leaders. It is also inappropriate to challenge the policies outlined in this manual, suggest changes in club format, suggest different awards or equipment, etc.

How to introduce business

To bring up an item of new business in the business session, you should present the idea to the president before the meeting begins. He will decide, in consultation with the director, which items should be brought up, if any. During the business session, if your suggestion has been approved, the president will ask you to stand and present it to the club for their consideration. This procedure will result in a fast-moving, profitable session.

After you have followed this procedure and have been recognized from the chair, state your suggestion briefly but clearly, showing why you think it should be adopted by the club. The president will then call for discussion from the floor. After hearing both sides of the discussion, the president may call for a show of hands or a voice vote to determine the overall opinion of the club, and based on the principle of “multitude of counsel,” the president will make a decision – tabling the motion, if necessary, for further input. The president will then clearly state the proposal and the decision so the secretary can enter it into the minutes.


Every item of business should be settled at least temporarily before new subjects are introduced. An item may be postponed to allow further consideration or to await a report from a fact-finding committee. The secretary should record such items as having been “tabled.” In no case should a committee be allowed to decide the issue. The committee leader should report the facts back to the club so the president, with the counsel of the club, can make the decision.

If action needs to be taken, the president will appoint individuals or committees to carry out the proposal. The president should see that the assignment is carried out effectively and punctually, with progress reports given to the club at subsequent meetings.

Final approval

In the final evaluation, the director will approve (or veto) the adopted proposals. The director will evaluate each topic of business in the following ways:

1) the appropriateness of the topic as club business

2) how the club handled it

3) final approval of the conclusion reached by the president, as appropriate.

All adopted proposals must be included in the minutes, and the secretary should give sufficient details on back of the minutes report to clarify the proposals.


The tabletopics session offers opportunity for every member of the club to stand and speak in a stimulating discussion of thought-provoking subjects. Each comment in the topics session is a short, complete, impromptu speech. Here is your chance to learn to think on your feet.

We are instructed in 1 Peter 3:15 to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Be alert and listen carefully as the topicsmaster begins to introduce a topic. As each question is asked, collect your thoughts quickly, and if you have a comment to give, raise your hand enthusiastically. When you are called on, rise and address the topicsmaster, and if you have not previously done so that evening, address the members.

Avoid long, rambling comments. The best comments will average one minute or less in length. Make your comment clear and concise, and be sure to comment on the question asked by the topicsmaster, not another question on a related topic. Strive to volunteer so that the topicsmaster will be less likely to call on you when you have nothing to say.

To make a worthwhile contribution during tabletopics session, you need to be informed about world news. Read a newspaper or newsmagazine. Be able to back up your comments with evidence and clear logic. You will get out of the tabletopics session only as much as you put into it. The key is preparation and participation.


When you are the topicsmaster, it is your responsibility to plan and present an interesting, worthwhile, balanced program. Among your topics should be at least one subject relating to a recent news item and another topic relating to the Bible or Christian living. The latter might be a question involving a seeming contradiction in the Bible, a difficult scripture to explain or a question involving a principle of Christian living. (Be sure that you have an adequate answer yourself.)

Besides those two topics, you should include other useful topics – and at times a lighter one can spark up the session. Avoid “picky” questions that have only one, obscure answer.

It is best to prepare more topics than you think you will use so you will not be caught short. Your director may want to check your topics before the meeting, and it would be helpful to have extra ones in case the director recommends that you not use one or two of them.

Continuity and good flow is important. Plan the session so that the topics will be presented in a logical order, but it will sometimes be necessary to say, “Now to go on to another topic….” If the response is not good for a particular topic, do not drag it out. Go on to the next. That is another reason you need to prepare more topics than you think you will use.

The comments will be better and the session will be more interesting if you recognize volunteers as much as possible, but you may have to call on reticent members who need encouragement to participate. Endeavor to get everyone to stand at least once during tabletopics. You should rarely, if ever, call on a member to comment for the second time before everyone has had an opportunity to comment at least once.

Success depends not only on the quality of the topics, but also on how they are presented.

In introducing a topic, set the stage for the question so the club can anticipate the question for a few seconds and begin to prepare a response. Generally you should avoid asking a question without any introduction, even though this would be all right for certain types of topics. Be careful, however, that you do not monopolize the floor with a lengthy speech as you introduce the topics. Your job as topicsmaster is to help each member respond with a good comment without focusing attention on yourself.

The success of the session will depend not only on the quality of the topics you present, but also to a great degree on the way you present them and the personality you exhibit in your presentation.

Set an example for the club in enthusiasm. Be alert, lively and interested in their comments. When a comment is particularly insightful, lead the club in applause. Keep an upbeat attitude. Remember that you, as topicsmaster, are responsible for the success of this session. If you accept the challenge this assignment offers and put yourself into it wholeheartedly, you will gain valuable experience, and the whole club will profit.


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