One of the most valuable skills I’ve learned in Toastmasters is how to give helpful and encouraging evaluations. I’ve learned the best feedback is constructive and motivating.
Most of us have many opportunities to give professional feedback. Managers need to give feedback regularly (not just once a year!), as do committee members, project leaders, team members, and customers. We all improve and grow from thoughtful feedback. When done well, feedback is energizing and engaging!
Giving feedback takes intentional thought, purposeful effort, and skill. Effective feedback highlights what was done well, what needs improvement, offers specific suggestions for improvement, and affirms the evaluated individual’s efforts.
How to evaluate to motivate!
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It’s not about you
Giving feedback is not about you. Feedback is most effective when it focuses on shared, organizational, or project goals.
Assess the individual critically and without judgement. One way to do this is to consider whether or not an individual’s efforts were effective instead of sharing feedback based on whether or not you like them or what they did.
Ask questions first
Before you give feedback it can be helpful to understand the individual’s process, methods, and goals. Asking clarifying questions can help you make a thorough assessment that addresses real issues instead of evaluating based on assumptions.
When giving evaluations it’s important to be specific about what was or was not effective, and why. Use examples- lots of examples!
Make suggestions and clarify goals
If an individual’s efforts were not effective, offer suggestions for improvement and clarify goals. Make sure they understand what they need to do differently to achieve better results.
Getting right to the point will help the recipient of your feedback understand what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve.
Don’t try to soften the blow by preempting an evaluation with casual conversation as this method can be misleading and cause the individual to be surprised by your feedback.
Avoid hedging language such as “I just think”, “what you did was really good, but”, or “sort-of”, “perhaps”, “maybe”. Hedging language causes the listener to doubt your assessments.
Don’t expect perfection
No one is perfect. Mistakes are okay! Focus your evaluation on progress, not perfection. Consider where the individual is in their position, in their career, in their industry. If your expectation is based on ideals they will feel discouraged, not encouraged.
Give credit where credit is due
No effort is 100% effective or 100% ineffective. Make sure to recognize what was well done and ask for more of it! Encourage them to take it to the next level!Join the Conversation
When I joined Toastmasters International seven months ago I didn’t know how much I would grow and how much fun I’d have doing it! Toastmasters has been an amazing experience and I want to tell you just what’s so great about it.
Toastmasters International is an educational organization that teaches communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. What I have gained from Toastmasters is all that and more. Being a Toastmaster is investing in myself and my best possible future. This blog is all about living a great, happy, fun, and full life and Toastmasters is one way I make that awesome life happen.
In addition to communication, public speaking, and leadership skills I have enjoyed quite a few unexpected and amazing benefits- here’s my top 3:
Speaking in Toastmasters provides new challenges and plenty of opportunities to be proud of your accomplishments. The more you expand your skills and talents, the more confidence you have in yourself!
Self confidence builds trust in others. People want to listen to someone who is confident in what they have to say and how they say it.
When I started in Toastmasters I wasn’t lacking confidence; I had a healthy dose of self-confidence that helped me get started in the club. What I didn’t expect was how my confidence would grow and where that new confidence would take me. Thanks to Toastmasters I’ve tried new things I wouldn’t have tried before.
Toastmasters is a friendly environment where people are genuinely interested in each other. Toastmasters works because it’s welcoming, positive and supportive with each and every member playing a role in the every other member’s growth and success.
Join Toastmasters and you’ll find you’ve become friends with people you wouldn’t know otherwise. You get to know members and they get to know you as you learn to appreciate and encourage the best in everyone you meet.
I have many friends in my Toastmasters club, people I spend time with outside the club that I consider true friends. Some of these friends are very different from me and I have enjoyed getting to know my fellow Toastmasters well enough to consider them friends.
Every Toastmaster receives heaps of encouragement and the best part is you’re encouraged to be your best self. Every Toastmaster has inherent talents and a wonderfully unique perspective to share. Toastmasters is all about encouraging yourself and others to be as awesome as you can be.
As a Toastmaster you share specific, positive, and constructive feedback and by doing so invest in your fellow member’s success as much as your own. You celebrate the victory of every member’s accomplishments.
I have especially enjoyed helping my fellow members develop through encouraging them in their progress in the Toastmasters program. It’s a wonderful experience to be part of something bigger than myself and watch my fellow Toastmasters grow!
I’m grateful for the confidence, friendship and encouragement that comes with being a member a Toastmasters. In addition to these great benefits there are many other awesome skills I’ve gained in Toastmasters such as:
- becoming a more effective communicator
- improving my grammar and vocabulary
- exercising time management skills
- being a great listener
- learning to give specific, positive, and helpful feedback
- speaking to inspire
- speaking to entertain
- speaking to inform (without boring!)
- give presentations that don’t suck!
- responding intelligently to impromptu questions
- leading meetings with authority and assurance
- being heard and understood when I speak
- leading by example
There are many benefits of being a Toastmaster and I hope you check it out but if Toastmasters is not for you I encourage you to challenge yourself in a different venue that helps you learn and grow. Go out there and live your best life!
I love your comments! Have you ever tried Toastmasters? What did you enjoy most about being a Toastmasters? If you haven’t tried it, would you? Why or why not?Join the Conversation
The active pursuit of knowledge and experience, called lifelong learning, is a leading cause of happiness! Lifelong learning has many benefits including:
- Creating opportunity
- Discovering solutions
- Building relationships
- Connecting to community
- Inspiring a better world
- Developing a unique identity
- Improving confidence
- Mastering new skills
- Nurturing positive change
- Realizing a better you!
Essentially, personal and professional development as methods of lifelong learning create personal satisfaction! The awesome effects of development happen in the experience you have along the way. While the results are also great, the real gifts happen in the process of learning.
I have always loved learning and I look forward to continuing my growth and development as long as I live. Learning makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger; it makes me feel more alive! In addition, my professional success can be attributed to my passion for learning as I’ve continually gained new skills and experience and stayed current on new technologies.
There are many opportunities to learn and the best path to growth is to learn by doing. If you’re motivated to achieve personal and professional improvement, here are some ways to develop your mind, body, and spirit.
Lifelong learning starts with curiosity. Ask questions! Challenge yourself to wonder why and discover the answers.
You’ll experience more joy and passion in life if you allow your curiosity to spark thoughtful living and personal development.
Read about topics that interest you, whether you are already comfortable with the topic or not. There’s a wealth of information in books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs.
Libraries and blogs are wonderful and free resources for information and knowledge sharing.
A great way to learn new skills is to volunteer to do a job you don’t know how to do. By the end of your service you’ll surely know something you didn’t know before, and you have the chance to give back to your community in the process!
Check out Volunteer Match for volunteer opportunities in your area.
Join a club
There are many personal and professional organizations and clubs centered around unique skill-sets and topics that provide the opportunity to participate and learn.
Find professional associations in your profession or industry, or join a club like Toastmasters International that offers great communication and leadership skills for anyone and everyone. Discover personal interest groups at Meetup.
Start a conversation
If you know a little about a topic and want to know more, join the discussion online.
Find a mentor
Mentoring is a fantastic way to network and grow. A mentor is an experienced professional that guides a protege by offering tailored advice and insight into the protege’s desired career path.
Some organizations have a mentoring program available to employees or members. You can also find someone you know and ask them to mentor you. Find a mentor that has something you want, like expertise or opportunity.
Take a class
There are many low-cost classes available through community colleges and local government programs.
Check out your local Workforce Center or Chamber of Commerce for educational programs available in your area.
Writing a blog is a great way to learn more about a specific topic and share the knowledge you’ve gained with others! You don’t have to blog about what you know- you can blog about learning as you go.
The most important aspect of lifelong learning is to have fun! After all, if you’re not enjoying it, why are you doing it?
I love your comments! What’s your favorite method of lifelong learning? How else do you grow personally and professionally?
Image courtesy of Mark Brannan.Join the Conversation
Imagine a stranger approaches you and says, “Hi, my name is Bob and here’s what you can do for me!” If you’re anything like me the last thing you would want to do is give Bob anything, let alone a few minutes of your time. When it comes to networking, don’t be Bob.
Networking works when you give. The first thing I learned at NoCoNet is that you build your network by giving.
What is networking, really?
I love this definition of networking by Karin Conway, networking is the art of building your sphere of influence through deliberate attempts to connect to other humans and display a definite purpose of helping others.
Networking is valuable for creating connections to forge partnerships and share knowledge and information. Successful people are successful by getting lots of help, not because they are too good to need it. If you want to be successful, you need a network, too.
How does networking work?
What your network looks like, and how you use it, depends on your business and your goals.
A job seeker’s network is his or her family, friends, former co-workers, college alumni, past or present club members, and recruiters. This network can provide job leads, key contact names, references, and more.
A business person’s network is his or her professional peers and leaders in the same field or industry. This network refers clients, shares best practices, offers advice, and other information.
Bloggers often refer to their network as a community. A blogger’s network are the other bloggers in their niche that leave comments, share content, exchange guest posts, and build friendships.
Your network can be any and all of these things, and can support you in a variety of ways.
What do I have to give my network?
When I walked into my first networking event, I was anxious and overwhelmed. I needed help- and lots of it- but didn’t know what I had to give. As it turns out, I have lots to give, such as:
- shareable content
- job leads
- client leads
- partnership opportunities
- contact names
- a smile
Instead of asking for something from your network, start by offering to give.
Everybody knows how to do something, so get out there and do! Be on a committee, or take on a volunteer position.
Offer to proofread a resume or critique a pitch. Leave a comment on a blog, or share content on social media.
Make a new friend. Smile! Introduce yourself to someone standing alone, and then introduce them to someone else you already know.
It’s easy to give, and giving soon gives back to you, and that’s how networking works. If you want to live a great life, and you want to be successful in life, start by giving instead of taking.
The greatest part about giving is the sense of confidence, purpose, accomplishment you’ll get when you contribute and participate in something bigger than you. You’ll get more by giving, and you’ll get farther than Bob.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchil
I love your comments! How do you give to your network? What does giving mean to you?
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I couldn’t be more excited to attend the amazing BlissDom Conference next month in Nashville, Tennessee and get my bliss on! Although this will be my First Bliss, I am preparing to make the most of it and have an awesome conference experience!
Attending conferences provides excellent opportunities for networking, training, and personal and professional development. Whether your employer or business partner is sponsoring you, or you’re paying your own way, you can increase the value of your conference experience with a little preparation. After all, why spend your money, time and energy on activities that don’t fully enrich your life?
Here are a few tips to improve your conference experience:
Before the Conference
Network, connect, engage.
Connecting with other attendees before the event is a great way to meet new people, build stronger connections, and break the ice.
Some ways to network before the conference include attending organization programs and meetings, following and participating in the conference hashtag on Twitter, and RSVPing to the event on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media.
Practice your elevator speech.
Be prepared to tell people what’s important to know about you! The goal is to describe yourself in 1 – 3 sentences.
What are you passionate about? In what way are you unique and amazing? If you had a tag line, what would it be?
Order business cards.
Exchanging business cards is a great way to follow up your elevator speech with a powerful branding statement and provide your contact information. Don’t settle for boring business cards- let your cards reflect your passion and purpose!
Set your development goals.
To get the most out of your conference, decide what you want to take away from the event. Perhaps you want to make 5 new contacts, meet a particular speaker or sponsor, or learn a specific skill.
Consider what you truly want to achieve and make your goals a priority during the excitement of the event.
At the Conference
Bring a pen and paper to sessions.
We all love technology, however I prefer to minimize distractions and take notes with good old fashioned paper and pen. Keeping it simple helps me focus on what I’m there to learn.
Move your body
Get up and move to another seat between sessions. Don’t stay camped out in the same spot the entire conference. Moving around you energizes your body and mind, and provides more opportunity to make connections.
Make progress on your goals.
Meet the people you wanted to meet, and attend the sessions you wanted to attend. Keep your goals in mind throughout the event. You don’t have to participate in every event to have a great conference experience, instead focus on making progress towards your goals.
Talk to strangers.
Approaching new people can be intimidating, but I encourage you to make good use of your artfully crafted and well practiced elevator speech. You can start by taking a deep breath and saying, “hello”.
Smiling improves your mood, and the mood of those around you. It also makes you far more approachable and open to others. Whenever you can, smile. Chances are you’ll get more out of your conference with a smile than without.
Take care of yourself.
There’s often so much going on at conferences it can be easy to skip meals, indulge in caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, and stay up all night. Don’t forget to take care of you!
Leave home at home and work at work.
You may get caught up thinking about important people or projects at home and cause yourself unnecessary stress. Avoid worrying about work and home and make the most of the experience you’re having in the moment.
Life is an adventure; don’t forget to have fun at everything you do!
I love your comments! What other conference tips do you have to share?
If you’re attending BlissDom, please introduce yourself. I’d love to connect with you!Join the Conversation
What will get an employer to pick your resume out of the stack, to get the promotion you applied for, to be a successful entrepreneur- to have the opportunity to be paid to be great at what you’re great at doing? The answer is branding.
What is branding? Do I need it?
Branding is building a name for yourself based on your strengths, your individuality, and your unique talents. It’s what you’re good at. It’s your reputation. It’s what distinguishes you from everyone else. Branding is your influence in your world.
You need to be able to do more than tell people what you’re great at- you need to show them. You need employers, supervisors, peers and clients to know who you are and what you can do for them.
What is my brand?
Use these questions to help you discover your brand:
What are my strengths?
What is my passion?
What are my motivating skills?
What is my purpose?
What do I have/do that no one else has/does?
What are my professional values?
How do I build my brand?
Building your brand is really pretty simple-
Express your brand in your image, words, and actions. Above all, underline, don’t undermine, your brand.
I love your comments! What is your brand? How do you build your brand?
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