Kate McKay said in an essay:
“It is not pleasant . . . to be criticized. . . we really ought to congratulate ourselves every time we learn of a new fault . . . To know of a fault . . . should be instantly to challenge its continuance.”
This summarizes well the evaluations offered in Toastmasters even though it concerned a different subject. Evaluators evaluate prepared speeches. The General evaluator evaluates evaluations and the conduct of the meeting – the job done by the meeting Toastmaster. The performances of those selected for meeting roles, such as Timer or Grammarian, are evaluated in their Competent Leader manuals. In some clubs evaluations – in the form of written feedback – are offered to Table Topics speakers as well.
Another perspective on evaluations is that we filter our thoughts as we choose our words, filters of experience, education, and even present mood. The listeners process the words through their filters – and the message they receive may – or may not – be what we sent. Evaluations that tell us what the evaluator heard, saw and felt give us feedback we can use to adjust our performance. Then, iteration by iteration, our ability to present effective prepared speeches improves. Likewise, our skills in planning and running a meeting, fulfilling the Timer’s duties and completing our tasks as Grammarian get better and better.
Improvement is a process, and like all processes, it is largely dependent on repetition. If we receive an obtuse or ineffective evaluation we learn more about evaluations. If the evaluation is right on – maybe even stings our ego a bit – we learn a great deal about ourselves as well as about the skill. We can use what we learn to improve, but the process works only if we do.
We will never achieve perfection, but the journey toward excellence is exciting and gratifying. It is not easy. It is not superficial. It is not pain-free. It is emotionally challenging and it confronts our egos and beliefs.
It is worth the effort.