Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sandwich Lesson Finally Learned

It's always a good day when you finally clue into something. I've been in Toastmasters for eight or nine months now. Toastmasters is not just about learning how to become a better public speaker. It's also about learning how to become a better leader.

Today I signed up to evaluate the speech of a fellow club member. As I listened to him speak, I could only think of all the things he was doing wrong.  I've evaluated several speakers in the past few months, but all were well prepared and did excellent jobs presenting their speeches. I was beginning to panic because I didn't know how I was going to give him an honest evaluation when he was doing such a poor job. I thought that if I told him the truth about his speech, he'd pack up and quit.

Then I remembered that part of the evaluation process is also identifying the good things the speaker does. Suddenly I had to find and focus on the good things he was doing. Giving a proper evaluation involves the "sandwich" method. You start by giving positive feedback. Then you give the speaker "go forward" points to help them improve. Finally, you wrap up your evaluation with more positive comments.

I really had to look hard for the good things as I was so overwhelmed by the bad things. But when I was done, I had crafted a positive "go-forward" evaluation that wasn't critical at all, but was still honest.

I've heard this all before, but until I had to actually "do" it, it was only academic. Wow. This would have been helpful to know when I was raising my kids.

Better late than never.

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