Evaluate a Speech to Become a Better Speaker: 10 Questions

Christopher Witt —  July 28, 2014

Evaluate a speechTo become a better public speaker, become a more discerning, informed, and insightful listener.

After listening to a speech, don’t simply say you liked it or you didn’t like it. Become more critical, not in a negative way but in an inquisitive way.

Ask yourself what the speaker did or did not do that caused you to feel the way you did.

10 Questions to Ask to Evaluate (and to Learn from) a Speech

1. What was the speech’s main point…in one sentence?

Can you sum up the speech main point—its unifying theme, its organizing principle—in one relatively brief sentence?

2. Did the speech make sense?

Was the speech’s main point supported by a logical development of ideas and by credible evidence? Were all relevant terms and concepts clearly explained and illustrated?

3. Did you believe it?

Did the speech ring true to your experience and understanding? Did it resonate with your values and basic outlook? Was the speaker credible?

4. Did it make you think?

Did it engage you intellectually? Did it cause you to rethink your current understanding? Did it make you question one of your underlying assumptions? Did it deepen your insight? Did it give you an “aha” moment?

5. Did you care?

Did the speech interest you? Did it address an issue or idea that affects you, your concerns, or the people you care about? Did it give you an insight or tool that will allow you to solve a problem or achieve a goal that matters to you?

6. What feelings did the speech evoke?

Did the speech engage you emotionally? Did it pique your interest? Did it make you angry or concerned or happy or hopeful? Did it stir you to want to take action?

7. Did it engage your imagination?

Did it make you “see” something, not necessarily with your eyes but in your imagination? Did it tell a story or plant an image in your mind?

8. How long did the speech hold you attention?

Did it keep you interested and engaged throughout the entire length of the speech?

9. What, if anything, will you do differently?

Will you do anything differently as a result of listening to the speech?

10. What do you remember about it, three days later?

Does the speech—an idea from it or a phrase or an image—linger in your mind, or was it totally forgettable?

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

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