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Taking Notes for Speech Evaluations

There are many styles for taking notes during a speech as part of preparing for a speech evaluation. The approach discussed below is an easy one, and can help you quickly prepare to give an evaluation without notes. Yes, without notes. It is not as hard as it seems, and is necessary to win an evaluation contest above the Area level in most Districts.

The first step is to come prepared with a spiral bound notebook-not a legal pad or spiral pad. On the left side of two clean sheets, draw the note outline shown below in Figure 1:

Figure 1. An Example of a Note Taking Format for Toastmasters Speech Evaluations
An Example of a Note Taking Format for Toastmasters Speech Evaluations

At the heading of the left sheet, write down the name of the speaker, the speech title, the manual and project number, and the name of the project. Next, in the upper left quadrant, draw a +/- T list for notes on the structure of the speech. Next, do the same in the lower left quadrant for notes on the content of the speech. Do the same for notes on delivery in the upper right quadrant and leave the lower right quadrant open for writing down good quotes from the speech.

On the right page, write headings for “Introduction,” “Praise,” “Recommendations,” and “Conclusion.”

During the speech, use this structure to organize your notes with things the speaker did well in the plus column and things that need improvement in the minus column.

When the speech is finished, write a short introduction with the speaker’s name and project information. Select a few items from the plus columns to use in the praise section of your evaluation. From the minus columns, select one or two items where you can make a concrete recommendation. Always make this a specific recommendation. Never say something like “work on your grammar” but instead say “work on using plural verbs only with plural subjects” and give an example. Finally, write a short conclusion.

If you use this note format, you will have written the information from the speech twice–once while taking notes and once while organizing the speech outline. This is frequently enough to memorize the speech so that you can deliver your evaluation without notes.

Good luck with your next evaluation!