Evaluation Overlap

word cloud from article text

It is rewarding to find overlapping methods in seemingly unrelated professional interests.

  1. I read the Matt Report blog post How to reverse engineer your competition in 10 minutes and listened to the 50 minute companion audio interview of Nathan Wright at the gym this week.
  2. I signed up as a contestant in my Toastmasters club’s annual Evaluation Contest (scheduled later this month).

Matt Report’s tutorial demonstrated how to evaluate the web presence of your competition in 10 minutes. The collaboration tool Trello was used to capture and organize the details about four types of competitor businesses and explained ways to use the collection of details as useful intelligence to improve a client’s business. In the companion interview with Nathan Wright, the step-by-step competitor review process was discussed.

The Toastmasters member experience has multiple dimensions. One of those dimensions is annual competitions among members to highlight strong speakers and to help all members grow their overall communications and leadership skills.

An important part of a Toastmasters meeting is the feedback on a prepared speech project. This feedback is presented in the form of a 2-3 minute oral evaluation of the content and delivery of the prepared speech. The prepared speech projects in the Toastmasters are connected to specific objectives. The member who takes on the role of speech evaluator is charged with capturing how effectively the content is delivered to the audience and if the given speech objectives were accomplished. After capturing the whole speech, the evaluator needs to assemble his/her notes into usable feedback to help the member who presented the speech improve his/her skills.

Normally there is one speech presenter corresponding to one oral speech evaluator. However, the evaluation contest is organized with one model speech presenter and MULTIPLE peer evaluators of the speech. Each evaluator is a contestant leaving the remaining members to be judges who actively listen and observe the evaluator. The end result is for the judges to choose the one evaluator who gave the most effective feedback to the model speaker.

Each contestant in this contest listens to the model speaker (5-7 minutes) and is sequestered in a separate area (5 minutes) and returns to the meeting room to deliver the oral evaluation (2-3 minutes). I’ve been a member of Toastmasters for 10 years and have participated in multiple evaluation contests as a contestant. What I love about this contest is that there is no advanced preparation that can be done.  Just show up and participate. While prior experience giving speeches and evaluations is helpful, there is a basic evaluation framework that can be followed even by the newest members. Important ingredients are the creativity and sincerity of the evaluation.

While the elements of a Toastmasters speech evaluation do not match exactly to a competitor’s business website evaluation,  ideas from both can be applied to strengthen the web presence for your business and improve the experience for your customers.


Use Wordle to create your own word cloud