Flex those BICEPS for FAB evaluations!
“Do I look okay? I’ve got an important interview and I need to know if I look okay.”
“Do I look okay? I’m looking for some advice here. Is there anything I could do to present myself better?”
Eventually I got some feedback: “I love the hat!” “You might like to try a different t-shirt.” “Change your trousers!”
What I was looking for was an evaluation – an assessment – of my appearance.
At Toastmasters, we evaluate everything. When someone gives a speech, another Toastmaster evaluates their performance. We work hard to make sure that our evaluations motivate the speaker to improve, not to give up and go home in dismay.
Why do we evaluate?
Evaluation helps speakers to:
Evaluation helps evaluators to:
Good evaluations should be FAB:
An evaluation gives the speaker the opportunity to receive an immediate reaction to their speech.
A good evaluation should include suggestions about how we could do things better or different ideas that we could try.
The best evaluations build up self-esteem by praising what was good and giving useful suggestions for improvement in a sensitive manner that encourages the person being evaluated to become a better speaker.
How can we evaluate more effectively?
I want to encourage you to flex your BICEPS – yes, another acronym to help us remember what makes a good evaluation.
B is for BE PREPARED. This means knowing which project the speaker is presenting and what their personal objectives are. To evaluate my outfit effectively, you needed to know what sort of interview I was going to and when.
I is for INTEREST. To receive your feedback in the right way, the speaker needs to know that you are genuinely interested in them and in helping them to improve. If I know you really care, then I can more readily accept your suggestions. Recommendations without interest come across as criticism. If I knew you wanted me to do well at my interview, then I would know that you would give me the best advice you could.
C is for CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY. Your evaluation is your opinion, so use phrases such as: “I really liked the way you…” and “I would have liked to see” and “I suggest that…” to own your evaluation. Try to avoid phrases like: “You didn’t…” and “You should have…” and that little word that has a habit of creeping into evaluations: “but”.
If you told me you didn’t like my hat, I might not take it very well. (Actually it’s not mine at all – I borrowed it!) However, if you told me that in your opinion I would look better without the hat, I would be more ready to accept your advice.
E is for EVALUATE THE SPEECH TO ENCOURAGE. Evaluate the speech, not the person. And don’t forget what you are trying to do – to give feedback that will encourage the speaker to improve. I needed you to evaluate the way I looked in terms of things I could change, not my height or the size of my nose!
P is for PROMOTE SELF-ESTEEM and always have a POSITIVE ENDING. Remember to praise the good things the speaker has done and always end on a positive note. Advice should always be mixed with praise. If you had simply told me that I looked awful, then I might have given up going to the interview altogether.
S is for SUGGESTIONS. An effective evaluation will have recommendations otherwise it will fail to stimulate the speaker to improve. Even if you feel there is no obvious need for improvement, suggest something different that the speaker could try. Clearly my outfit was perfect for the interview (!) but you could have suggested I try a different t-shirt or a pair of heels instead of my trainers.
When you next take on the role of evaluator, remember to flex your BICEPS:
Be prepared and be
Choose your words carefully
Evaluate the speech not the speaker
Suggest some improvements
That way, it will be a FAB evaluation with effective Feedback and good Advice which Builds the speaker up and helps them to improve.