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Posts Tagged ‘intent’

Once you’ve got a handle on what the speaker set out to do you’ve got a good start on your evaluation. Often the first clue to this is the title of the speech.

The title might be clear and straightforward – “Three Ways to Cook Spaghetti”, “How to Write a Resume”. There is a clear and direct correlation between title and speech. As evaluator you listen for the information promised. Either it’s presented in a clear and usable manner or it isn’t.

If the information is not presented clearly, in your opinion, then offer suggestions about how it might have been clearer or more focused.

But often speeches have titles that are not so clearly related to the topic. Then you have to do some work to figure out what the speaker’s intention was. It might not become clear until the speech is almost complete.

Personally I find this difficult. I have to fill in all the details of content and presentation leaving the big picture question unanswered until the last minute. Sometimes, when the full realization of the speaker’s intention is revealed half my comments become irrelevant.

The speaker might include a long anecdote that initially appears to be unrelated to the theme. My notes will say something like “Wandered off track – suggest he keeps to the point.” Then the speaker switches back and reveals at the sixth minute his intention for the speech. Suddenly I can see how the story has fit right in, exactly. Scrub the ‘wandered off track’ notes. Substitute last minute comments on the strength of the anecdote.

Sometimes the objective is even masked by the title. The title might be “Hiking in the Rockies”. Indeed the speech starts off with the scenery and the trees and how much the hiker and her dog enjoyed the fresh air. But as the speech progresses you realize this is not about hiking or the Rockies. At a deeper level it’s all about the close companionship between the hiker and her dog.

Did the speaker intend this much self-revelation, or was her purpose just a speech about hiking? This is where a chat ahead of time can be very revealing. You ask the innocent question “What is your speech about?” Her answer will demonstrate whether it’s all about the hiking or all about the dog.

You approach your evaluation clear about her intention. Now you understand the framework within which she is working you can evaluate how well she met her objective.

Strong evaluators value the chat ahead of time (if it isn’t a contest) to raise their level of understanding about the speech – and the speaker – they are about to evaluate.

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