In this post, the 4th of my Toastmasters series, I will focus on feedback. I will explain how feedback is one of the key elements of Toastmasters and why it is extremely important to me. I will also share some tips on giving and receiving feedback both from Toastmasters International and my personal experience.
Some say “feedback is the breakfast of champions”. I like to say “feedback is like a gift we give each other”. The concept is the same. Feedback is an indispensable tool we all need to learn how to use if we want to learn and grow and if we want to help others to do the same. Feedback is one of the main reasons why I love Toastmasters. The culture of feedback at Toastmasters is incredible as it’s always given in a positive and encouraging way whilst providing very valuable observations on areas for improvement. Becoming a member of a Toastmasters club really helps you build a growth mindset. Nothing is impossible. You quickly realise that public speaking is not a skill we were either born with or not. It’s a skill you can learn with feedback and deliberate practice. Like any other.
During a Toastmasters meeting¹, there are several opportunities to give and receive feedback. When giving a prepared speech, you will be assigned an Evaluator who will give a 2–3 minutes speech to give you feedback. The other members are also encouraged to provide feedback on your speech either via post-it notes in pre-pandemic meetings or via Zoom direct messages nowadays.
Another opportunity to receive feedback is when you participate in the Table Topics session. Every Table Topic is assessed by a Table Topics Evaluator. Their role is very difficult in that they have between 4 and 6 minutes to evaluate up to 10 Table Topics. That’s a lot of feedback concentrated in only a few minutes!
The Grammarian will share their report at the end of the meeting which will contain feedback regarding the use of the English language to most of the speakers.
Finally the General Evaluator will provide feedback for the meeting and the club in general, focussing on all those functionary roles that haven’t had the opportunity to receive feedback during the meeting, e.g. Toastmaster, Evaluators, Grammarian, Table Topics Master, Timekeeper and Sergeant at Arms. This is really to make sure that everyone who’s spoken during the meeting is receiving feedback.
Toastmasters International provides a few tips for both receiving and giving feedback, which I am going to summarise below. If you’re receiving feedback, they advise to:
When I am not a Toastmasters member, I am also a massive fan of feedback. At work, since becoming an Engineering Manager a few years ago, I’ve always been striving to create a feedback culture in every team I’ve worked with. I consider feedback a great way to learn more about yourself quickly and effectively; at the same time, it’s a great way to create trust and help others to improve.
Below I will share a few tips from my personal experience:
In conclusion, I strongly believe that all of us should always make an effort to create a culture of feedback, whether that is at work, at home or in other group settings. And for this very reason, I strongly believe the feedback culture at Toastmasters is one of the main reasons why you should consider joining a club.
In my next post, I will write about impromptu speaking, don’t miss it!
Blog was written by author as 8 part Toastmaster series and also available in his personal Medium post