I had someone ask me something interesting yesterday while visiting my husband for lunch at the company he works at. The gentleman had asked why I was up in the area, and I explained we had done a Toastmasters demo meeting at UMASS Amherst.
He said he had heard about Toastmasters and was interested in it, but wanted to know more about how specifically it was applicable to business leadership and communication.
I explained that while in Toastmasters, you give speeches, take leadership roles and also fill assorted roles, like timer, grammarian and ah counter, you also have the opportunity to give speech evaluations.
From the perspective of management and learning to be a better manager and give constructive, encouraging and motivational feedback; learning to give a good speech evaluation is extremely useful, because then you can learn how to give better feedback to employees, without coming across as being overly negative or critical.
A few examples.
“You shouldn’t have dealt with that client that way! You should do it this way next time!”
“Perhaps we could have dealt with this differently and in the future lets take a look at how we can change this into a positive outcome.”
“Your appearance is disgraceful and unprofessional in the client’s eyes.”
“I try to make a point of coming to work in a suit and tie everyday, not because the job demands it, but because I feel more professional and productive when I am dressed well, and clients treat me as equals.”
“You didn’t finish your deadline on time!”
“Lets work together on making sure you have all of the information and tools you need to accomplish this in a more timely manner.”
“You didn’t explain our goals very well to the client and they don’t understand what we are trying to do!
“I have found that when I am talking people outside of our field, I try to do away with a lot of the technical jargon we use all the time, because most people don’t understand it, it helps to sometimes put things in layman’s terms.”
A good part of learning how to give a good evaluation, is learning to do away with the “You should” and replace with the “we” (as in teamwork) and “I could” or “I think” in a more positive way.
It replaces pointing fingers with a less direct but very to the point way of putting something.
From a management perspective, people leave when they are criticized repeatedly and/or they become unproductive and unhappy. Constructive criticism, which Toastmasters evaluations teach you to do, better leads to happier and more productive employees.
Evaluations in my opinion, are far harder than giving a speech, but so is being and becoming a good manager.
Check out a Toastmasters club in your area. http://reports.toastmasters.org/findaclub/