Receiving an informed speech evaluation is a valuable part of developing public speaking competence.
If you want to go forward, to improve your speech making, you'll realise receiving feedback is vital. How else do you learn what worked and what needed further refinement?
Click for a print-friendly speech evaluation form
It's simple to use & suitable for:
The form lists all the important elements that collectively make a successful speech alongside a straightforward 5 point rating scale.
- students wanting to know more about the assessment criteria for their prepared speeches
- anybody wanting structured feedback on their public speaking.
But if your presentation is in a social setting like a birthday speech or a eulogy it's unlikely that you'll get formal feedback. You may get comments along the line of 'Well done!' or 'Thanks. That was great.' The compliments, although pleasant, don't let you know the nitty-gritty specifics.
Even in a workplace it can be difficult. Most people listening to your speech are probably not actively analysing the elements you've brought together to constitute its combined impact. Again, should you ask, you're likely to hear unfocused 'global' comments covering the whole of the speech rather than specifics with examples. You'll get variations of: 'It was OK', 'It was good' or 'It went on too long'.
There are few situations outside of specifically designated public speaking training programs such as part of the high school curriculum or a specialist course, where you can get a thorough speech evaluation.
If you want one and you're not in a public speaking club, this page is for you. You'll find out how a speech is formally assessed and how to use an evaluation to improve your performance.
What is rated in a speech evaluation?
The areas most commonly focused on are:
- Did it capture attention & interest?
- Was the topic intoduced clearly?
- Was the topic related to the audience?
- Did the speaker have topic-credibility?
- Was the body of the speech previewed?
- Were the main points clear?
- Were the main points supported?
- Were the main points logically presented?
- Were the transitions between main points clear & effective?
- Was the transition to the end of the speech signalled?
- Was there a summary of principal points?
- Was there an effective close and/or call to action?
- Was the language used appropriate for the topic & the audience
- Was the language varied?
- Were the notes, visual aids etc. organized before the start?
- Was the beginning poised?
- Was there good use of eye contact?
- Was the body language (posture & gesture) controlled & effective?
- Was the speaking rate - flexible & effective?
- Was the speaking volume appropriate & varied?
- Was there fluency, an absence of fillers like 'ahs' & 'ums'?
- Was vocal variety used, changes in pitch & tone, & good use of pausing?
- Did the speaker show enthusiasm for the topic?
- Were there visual aids & were they appropriate & integrated into the speech?
- Did the speech finish with poise?
- Overall Evaluation
- Did the speaker achieve the assignment's purpose?
- Was the topic researched?
- Did the topic adapt well to the audience?
- Were the audience interested?
- Was the speech completed within the time limit?
How are these aspects rated?
In a formal speech evaluation, such as one done by a teacher in a high school public speaking class, variations on a sliding scale are used.
The most common is a 5 point scale:
- P (poor)
- F (fair)
- A (average)
- G (good)
- E (excellent)
You can see this scale in use on a downloadable public speaking evaluation form here.
The person doing the rating will actively listen and watch the speech evaluating each element.
The final assessment will generally show a range (up and down the scale) over most of the aspects. Therefore a speech can be seen to be 'good' in some areas, 'excellent' in others and perhaps 'fair' in one or two.
How to get a thorough speech evaluation
If you're not in a public speaking class or a member of an organization like Toastmasters International and the people you work with or for don't provide criteria-based feedback you have two options.
- join a class or Toastmasters
- organize your own feedback givers using the aspects outlined above with the suggestions below
Organizing your own speech evaluators
- Ask a person whose judgement and maturity you respect whether they'll accept the role and be present at your next speech
- Download and print off several copies of the speech grading form
- Go through the form with your evaluator explaining the process. Highlight any areas you particularly want noticed.
- Establish how you want the rating scale interpreted. A good way to set the benchmark is to listen to an excellent speaker. You could choose one from here: The Top 100 American Speeches
- Have your evaluator listen to your speech before you give it in front of an audience. This will provide a foundation for their comments when they complete your speech evaluation 'proper'.
Working with your speech evaluation
You've got your evaluation. Now what do you with it?
Go through it with your evaluator. Bear in mind before you do:
- that an evaluation is an opinion. At best it is an informed one with knowledge and experience behind it. If you find areas
you disagree over, do try and understand them from the evaluator's point of view. Often what we think we do and what we actually do are two different things.
- that a poor or fair rating represents an opportunity to develop rather than a reason to give up public speaking
Use the ratings as a guide on where to focus your energy. For example, if you're rated well on the delivery items but have fallen on the content, (introduction, body, conclusion), you know that for your next speech you'll spend the bulk of your preparation time organizing your content.
Keep hold of your completed speech evaluation forms. It's great to be able to refer back to them to see how far you've come and it's interesting to compare how different evaluators pick up on different aspects to comment on.
About this speech evaluation form
The speech evaluation form unites my experiences as a high school English teacher evaluating speeches with being a public speaker.
If you're the evaluator, the value of completing it is that you give the speaker something to take away that they can refer back to. It's hard to do that with purely verbal feedback.
Do you want to know more about planning, writing and rehearsing speeches?
- Here's a sample speech outline page. It has a handy downloadable blank speech outline form ready and waiting for your notes.
- You'll find more about planning your speech here.
This page takes you through the sequence of planning decisions and shows you how they are guided by knowledge of your audience.
- When you've done all your planning you can find out about how to write your speech
- And then it's fun time. Find out how to rehearse. Yes, practice does make perfect!
- You'll find resources for specialist speeches: eulogies, birthday, retirement and more by checking out the sitemap.
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