Last night at my Toastmasters meeting, a fellow Toastmaster walked up to me at the end of the meeting and tapped me on the shoulder and said “You are too kind.”

At first, I took it as a compliment, and thanked him. I wasn’t exactly sure what he was referring to, but I felt like it was a nice positive affirmation. After racking my brain, I turned to him and asked him, “Why I was so kind?” He responded that he would have been much tougher on the Toastmaster who had given the final speech of the evening.

I had the role of General Evaluator that evening. The General Evaluator has the responsibility to evaluate the overall meeting, the individual functionaries and the prepared speakers. One of the great benefits of Toastmasters is the ability to learn how to improve your public speaking and leadership skills. I have benefited greatly from the constructive criticism I have received as a Toastmaster.

This evening I had failed.

The final speaker of the evening, a long time seasoned Toastmaster, had not prepared adequately for his speech. His speech utilized his computer and the projector. When he walked to the lectern to start his speech, he took about 10 minutes trying to get the proper images on the screen. He even had to reboot his computer about halfway through his set up process. Meanwhile, twenty Toastmasters are waiting patiently for the presentation to begin.

Technical difficulties are not uncommon when attempting to set up a presentation using the equipment of the facility. That being said, because they are common, they should be prepared for. The speaker should arrive early and test the equipment, making sure everything is compatible, that they have the correct cables, and long enough extension cords.

In my review of this speaker, I was much more empathetic than corrective. Technology has advanced so quickly, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with. That being said, I failed in my duty as General Evaluator, by not aligning myself with the Mission Statement of Toastmasters International. The Mission Statement is clear, “We empower individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.” By not recognizing the concerns with the preparation of the speech, I was not helping the speaker to become a more effective speaker.

The success of any organization depends on the members or employees being in line with the Mission Statement and the Vision of the organization.

I knew the Mission Statement of Toastmasters International, but I did not base my evaluation of the speaker on it. As a result, the opportunity for improvement was lost.

Speaking of Business…

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