In Conversation with the Division Level Evaluation Champs…

Evaluation is the backbone of the toastmasters movement. It is after all through mutual support, guidance and feedback that we grow. And the art of delivering a good evaluation is not something that everyone has mastered. But those few who have, have certainly taken a lot  of time to understand and decipher the truth behind a skillful, value adding, honest evaluation.

We, the district PR team spoke to the winners and runners up of the 9 division contests to understand their journey towards mastering this art.

Division A – Sridhar Ranganathan


The LA 1924 club has given the district many seasoned speakers. One name that stands out the most is TM Sridhar Ranganathan. He has graced the district level contest stage several times in the past and it was no surprise when he emerged victorious at the division A evaluation contest.

1.What made you join Toastmasters?

Like many I always wanted to become a good public speaker. I was looking for a non-commercial, non-intimidating platform to help me develop speaking skills. Luckily I found Toasmasters.

2. How did you prepare for the evaluation speech contest? 

My preparation for evaluation contest starts a few months before the contest. I start listing down various not-so-common points an evaluator can find in any speech.

I do some brainstorming with DTM Arjun Raj Urs to validate my findings and take his inputs as well to get an outsider’s view about my evaluation preparation.

3. One person in the Toastmasters fraternity that inspires you The Most! And why?

DTM Nagarja Rao. There are many things about this genius that the world doesn’t know. He is an ocean and I have got something to carry back from this ocean every time I took a plunge into it. His passion to be the difference, to make a difference is something every toastmaster should learn.

4. What is the one message you would like to give other Toastmasters who aspire to do be better at evaluations?

Contrary to popular belief, evaluation contest is also a prepared event. The more you work on the preparation, the more you know what to look for.


Division B – Kavya Gowda

Kavya Gowda

TM Kavya Gowda is no new face to the district. The former district PRO from IBM Blue Expression Toastmasters Club started her toastmasters journey in 2004 and says that it was her love for words and their stubbornness to heard that made her join toastmasters.

1. How did you prepare for the evaluation speech contest?

Being a woman in the corporate world helps. A lot.
Every time I’ve walked into a room full of decision makers – I’ve either been the only woman, the only other woman, the least experienced or the youngest. Evaluation of the people in the room, understanding what they wish to convey, what they simply imply and what is actually the fact of the matter has always helped me formulate my thoughts and responses in a way that people value my inputs and value me. It has been a learning curve.
At Toastmasters, every single person at my club has been a mentor in some way. The one thing I did was to ask honest feedback from new members of the club and their fresh, brutally honest perspectives have helped me polish my evaluation style.

2. Among all the advice and suggestions you received during this contest season, which one helped you the most?

The only advice I got was to summarize my evaluation. And it was the only thing I promptly forgot to do!

3. What is the one message you would like to give other Toastmasters who aspire to do be better at evaluations?
Make more speeches, listen to more speeches and evaluate more speeches. It’s that simple.

4. Your good friend Mayokun Aduwo is also a contestant at the district finals of the evaluation contest. How does it make you feel competing against a friend.

Mayo is a fantastic speaker, a strong woman leader and a wonderful person. I’ve always been her biggest cheerleader.   The competition isn’t going to change that in anyway. It’s always a pleasure to compete with excellence, you win either way. Also, both of us play to win so it’s going to be a good show.

Division C – Mayokun Aduwo


TM Mayo, as we all fondly call her is one of the most charismatic women in the district. Hailing from the IBM Synergy Club this toastmaster swept away not only the championship trophy but also hearts of the audience during the division C semi-annual conference with her charm, poise and intelligence.

  1. What made you join Toastmasters?

A colleague of mine in one of the old companies I used to work in was very scrawny and a tiny human being but anytime he opens his mouth to speak it was very impressive and a far cry from his physical stature. I was chatting with him one day and asked how did he learn to speak in such an impressive manner and he told me about toastmasters. And ladies and gentlemen the rest is history.

2. How did you prepare for the evaluation speech contest? OR Who is your mentor and how did he/she help you prepare for the contest?

Personally, I have debunked the old saying of ‘knowledge is power’, my new mantra is ‘sharing is power’ the more I share the more I internalize and it becomes a part of me. For every opportunity I get I train on evaluation and I also proactively request for feedback.

3. How has being part of this contest helped you?

The art of putting yourself out there again and again is not the easiest of task but it is the best way to push you to the next level. In other words being a part of the contest has helped me to grow, it has also helped me to understand myself a bit more and certainly in more ways than one surprise myself. Besides it is a great adrenaline fix.

4. During your division level evaluation speech contest which one contestant impressed you the most? And why?

I was totally impressed by TM Appu Geetha Byju. I have a profound respect for Appu. He is young and fabulous. During the Division C contest, Appu’s speaking slot was immediately after mine and I was fortunate enough to listen to his evaluation. After Appu spoke I was grinning from ear to ear like a chipmunk because he was so so so good. I went up to him after the contest and said “Appu you were so good, I really don’t mind losing to you” and I meant it.


Division D – Geet Rathi



TM Geet has been the most pleasant surprise of the season. This young chap from SAP Speak To Lead club has been a part of toastmasters for just about a year now. When he took to the stage during the division D contest, TM Geet truly proved that age is but a number and nothing stopped him form acing the contest.

1. How did you prepare for the evaluation speech contest?

I was genuinely curious about the judging criteria for the evaluation contest when I decided to participate. So I paid keen attention to the judging points breakdown and decided to cover aspects from the ballot. Over a fortuitous meeting with TM VSV Prasad, I got some helpful insights that I could incorporate and my fellow club-mate TM Aditi D’Souza also helped me greatly in the initial stages with the preparation.

2. How has being part of this contest helped you?

It has in general made me more observant and given me a reason to pay close attention to whenever someone speaks. But more than just that, contests have always been an amazing way to meet new people and make friends. This time was no different, only better as it was a joint Division conference. Lot of new faces, lot of fun.

3. One person in the Toastmasters fraternity that has inspired you The Most! And why?

TM RajdeepManwani. I had met him the first time at a division conference during the Table Topics Contest earlier this year. His manner and the outlook he has towards life which almost always is evident when he speaks, has gravitated me towards him with respect. Then again he had shared his life experiences at the 500th meeting celebration of Smedley’s Toastamsters which only reinforced the inspiration he exudes each time he speaks. He is truly inspiring.

4. How did your club members help you out during this contest journey?

My club members display so much faith and confidence that it pushes me to want to do better each time. They are my support system who instill confidence in me, they are that reassuring wall that has got my back and always acts as my buttress. The will to want to reach here would not have been so without them, definitely not.

5. How has toastmasters added value to your life?

More than just helping me be a better Communicator and Leader, it has given me something that is seated much deeper within me. It has instilled in me a surge of self-confidence, it has made me believe in myself. I am a believer in self now.


Division E – K V M Kishore


Everybody in the district knows this man. He has literally made us ROLF with his hilarious speeches. But who knew that this toastmaster from the Speakers Den club had a surprise in his arsenal. This time at the district conference, we will have the opportunity to be awed by TM Kishore delivering an evaluation.

1. What has being part of an evaluation contest taught you?

A contest tests you on several factors. An evaluator who would be otherwise just interested in giving value add to the speaker in a contest should be more creative to provide the same value add in an interesting, motivating and enlightening way so that it enriches the entire audience and not just the test speaker. Attempting to do that in itself is quite an awesome experience.

2. One person in the Toastmasters fraternity that has inspired you The Most! And why?

Geetha Prasanna. She taught me a lot of things without never teaching. From her I learnt that toastmasters is more than speeches. I learnt the value of building relationships, participating in cricket, singing in karaoke, attending division and district events and at the end of it all that just taking back a smile and having absolutely no expectations.

3. Among the many advice and suggestions you received during this contest season, which one advice helped you the most?

TM Balajee had a valuable suggestion that everyone focuses on delivery and rarely comment about the content. So focus on evaluating the content and that could really make a difference was one good suggestion that really helped me.

4. What is the one message you would like to give other Toastmasters who aspire to do be better evaluators?

In the past, I have made the mistake of being very critical that left an unpleasant experience to the speaker. So my submission to any evaluator would be to make the evaluation as motivating and considerate as possible.

5. How has toastmasters added value to your life?

It made me a different person. It has significant positive impact on the way I listen, understand, act and react.


Division F – Rohit Kumar Koka


Its going to be his first time on the district stage for TM Rohit of Mysore Toastmasters club. Even though he is just a year old in toastmasters, this young man is renound for his impeccable speaking skills. With his confident persona TM Rohit has taken a step forward and clinched the division F evaluation championship with much ease.

1. What made you join Toastmasters?

I always loved being on stage and after graduation I felt lost without getting many opportunities to be on stage. Then my mom read a newspaper article about toastmasters in Mysore. Without a second thought she told me to join. I wondered why she was so confident about this organization, but after being here for 1 year I know the answer.

2. How has being part of this contest helped you?

This contest season was wonderful especially as I was representing my area for both contests. The quality of my evaluations have gone up just by being apart of this contest. I learnt how to give better and more encouraging evaluations with appreciation since the contests began.

3. How did your club members help you out during this contest journey?

My club members have always been good friends who support me in all aspects within and outside the club. During this contest they kept giving me constant feedback for my evaluations. I incorporated those feedback in other contests and it proved to be beneficial.

4. How has toastmasters added value to your life?

Toastmasters has changed my life in many ways. From the way I interact with people to my presence on stage. The way I deal with tough situations, handle tasks under pressure and above all being prepared for the unexpected. Just being associated with Toastmasters and it’s members for 1 year had brought so much to me and my life. I look forward to the journey of learning and the experience ahead.


Division H – Solomon Mathews


TM Solomon Mathews from Travancore Toastmasters Club has been a part of toastmasters for three years now. He says that toastmasters has been of immense help in his professional life as well. Last year, he had an opportunity to address a group of 400 high profile delegates from various companies. He could speak quite confidently and says he owes the credit to toastmasters. Well we sure will get a lot to learn from TM Solomon himself when he takes to the stage at the district level evaluation contest.

1. What made you join toastmasters?
I met a friend of mine at a social gathering after a long gap of 10 years. He took the initiative in inviting us and organizing the meeting. He gave an enthralling speech, which made me wonder how he could change himself into a great leader and speaker, from what I saw of him, years back. So, I went and asked him, “What’s the secret of your transformation?”
He said, “Toastmasters!”
I followed his trail…

2. How did you prepare for your evaluation speech contest?
Contests demand more from you. The audience is larger compared to a club. The stage is bigger. The best way to prepare is to seek out more speaking opportunities at the club itself. With practice you get better.

3. Among the many advises and suggestions you received during the contest season, which one advice helped you the most?
I value the tip given by a seasoned toastmaster on having the right mind-set for an Evaluator towards the Speaker. Those are: Listen attentively, have no prejudice, have an open mind, be supportive, be truthful.

4. What is the one message you would like to give toastmasters who aspire to be better evaluators?
A thorough understanding of all the 10 projects of ‘Competent Communicator’ is absolutely essential. It gives you the framework to evaluate any speech. Lance Miller, the 2005 World Champion in Public Speaking, says, “If you want to be an excellent speaker, you have to be an excellent evaluator”. Being an good evaluator and a good speaker, go hand-in-hand.

5. How did your club members help you out during this contest journey?
It’s only through the continuous feedback and suggestions given by your club members that you improve. My club members have been very supportive and encouraging. It means a lot to me!

6. One person in toastmasters fraternity that has inspired you the most and why?
There are many toastmasters that you look up to and learn from. One such toastmaster who stands out is TM Jayakumar, who has been instrumental in giving me the right guidance, especially when I joined toastmasters. The skill of mentoring is what I admire in him the most.

Division I – Ajay Chitharanjan


TM Ajay is certainly a known face to us all of us and has experienced the district stage several times now. Being a part of the Mecon Communication Club for the last 7 years, Ajay attributes a great deal of his success to his club and its members.When asked what made him join toastmasters, this former district champion humorously replied, I’m like Rahul Gandhi, I inherited toastmasters. My father was a toastmaster.

1. How did you prepare for the evaluation speech contest?

I’ve prepared for the contest over 4 years, In evaluation contest it is your overall understanding of speech making that comes to the rescue

2. One person in the Toastmasters fraternity that has inspired you The Most! And why?

Sridhar Raganathan. By his Sincerity, simplicity and dedication.

3. What is the one message you would like to give other toastmasters who aspire to be better evaluators?

Evaluate to help the speaker and not to win the contest.

4. How has toastmasters added value to your life?

It has simply transformed my life. Now I don’t speak just for the sake of it, but I speak to excel. At least I try to.


We wish all the division champions the best for the upcoming hurdle and the climax of their evaluation contest journey, the District Level Contest at Jamboree ’15.