As you might know, I joined Toastmasters a few months ago. My motivation is to improve my public speaking skills while also expanding my social circle.
I’ve learned many things from the experience. One of them is what I call the “evaluation mindset.”
Since the first time I joined, I was instantly impressed by the culture of evaluation in Toastmasters. There are several speakers in each meeting, and every speaker has an evaluator who will evaluate his or her speech. In addition, there is also a general evaluator who will evaluate the overall quality of the meeting.
The nice thing about the evaluation is that it’s encouraging rather than critical. The focus is on making you improve, not on pointing out your mistakes. Another interesting thing is that no matter how good you are, there are always points for improvements. You never hit the ceiling; you can always be better.
A speech evaluation consists of three parts:
- Strengths: the things that the speaker did right. Rather than just giving vague praise, the evaluator will give you specific examples of what you have done right.
- Points for improvements: the things that the speaker can improve. The evaluator will tell you not just where to improve, but also how to do it. She will give you specific suggestions.
- Summation: a summary of the two parts above, and some final encouragement.
This is an effective method for improving someone’s public speaking skills. However, I believe we can take this concept further and apply it to our entire lives.
An evaluation mindset can help you improve your life. You can evaluate your day, your week, or your year. You can also evaluate your projects or your roles.
Here is how to evaluate your life:
- Figure out what you have done right. Have you achieved a goal? Have you made progress on something? Then acknowledge and celebrate it. It can motivate you to move further.
- Find points for improvements. What could you do better next time? What specific action can you take for that?
- Write down the lessons you learn. Don’t let the nuggets of wisdom go uncaptured. By writing them down, you can review them in the future.
It’s up to you how exactly you do it. The important thing is that you adopt the mindset. Don’t be satisfied with where you are; instead, aim to constantly improve.
How do you evaluate and improve yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Photo by Sebastien Wiertz
Great post Donald,
Being able to evaluate ourselves is really useful but it’s harder than doing it for other people. I’ve attended creative writing workshops where a similar approach is taken to what you’ve described. I’m trying now to evaluate my own writing in the same way and have started putting checklists together that help identify improvements.
I also agree that it can be done on a larger scale. My current thinking is to identify and expand the things that work well in my life and dimish that which don’t. It requires honesty and a lot of reflection.
I think it works best if you’ve a mindset that knows you can improve and enjoys asking questions and reflecting.
I agree, Peter. Evaluating ourselves is more difficult than evaluating other people. I think creating a checklist – as you suggested – is a good idea. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for this great article. I was just putting together a check list of how to evaluate myself to make sure that I am improving and heading in the right direction.
Thanks for the additional tips they will be of great help.
Really? That’s great, Rose! I like your approach of creating a checklist (which Peter also suggested). Thanks for sharing!
Some years back I started teaching a large class (500 people) at a university. I was so anxious I was just happy not to pass out. Eventually I got to a point where I could start looking at what worked and didn’t and I also started asking for interim feedback from the students rather than wait for end of term evaluations. That helped me a lot.
Wow, that’s a really large class, Holly! Good idea asking for interim feedback. Thanks for sharing!
This is definitely good for improving. I’ve always had an evaluative mindset. In fact, I spend more time evaluating what I’m doing and researching about it than doing actual work.
You have to be careful though. Get consistency in whatever it is you’re trying to do first and then evaluate and improve it.
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