That was another evening in December 2030 according to my diary. Holmes and I were sitting idle in the living room as we could not go outside due to the heavy rain. I was reading the comments of my latest blog that had been published and one of my top fans had raised a question asking, “How did Mr. Holmes learn to evaluate so well? What was his starting point?” Even that was a question for me. I turned to Holmes who was smoking his pipe laying on his couch. “Holmes, how did you develop your evaluation skills so well? Where did you begin?” I asked.
Holmes took off his pipe and smiled. “My dear Watson,” he said. “It was way back in 2021 when I was studying at the university” I was surprised. “You have started young, didn’t you? So tell me about it” I was excited to know.
“Well, it was November 2020, when all universities were closed due to COVID 19. We were all bored staying at home and it was Gavel UoC that came up with this great competition, Enliven 2021. It was an All-Island humorous speech and evaluation contest.”
“Holmes!” I interrupted. “So, you learned evaluation through a speech contest! But how?” Holmes smiled. “Yes, my dear Watson. There was an evaluation contest as well. There, we had to evaluate a speech and give comments on it. We were assessed on analyzing the quality of speech through clarity and focus, giving recommendations while being positive, specific, and helpful to the speaker, and also we had to talk about the techniques the speaker used. You see it was not easy!”
“Yes, I see, it must have been pretty competitive, so did only university students participate in it?” I asked eagerly in hope of obtaining more information. “No, No it was open for school students as well. I was 26 by then and to my luck, the age limit for the university category was 27 but for the school category, it was 13-20 years. To be honest, I had no intention of applying for this evaluation contest but my batch-mate, Tobius Gregson who was an enthusiastic Gavelier, encouraged me to participate in it. Holmes replied with a smile.
“So, it was our friend Greg who dragged you into this! Amazing to hear!. So, Holmes, how was it held? You told me that it was the period when all universities were closed. How did Gavel UoC organize it amidst all chaos?” I was curious. “That is a worthy question,” Holmes said. “Enliven 2021 was held on a virtual platform using Zoom. Even I was confused about how it would be held but the organizing committee had done a marvelous job. I still remember how Gregson convinced me to participate.
He came to see me one day and said, “Holmes, it is the right time to get the advantage of the real evaluator inside you. Enliven 2021 is your stage! You are applying for it right?” Watson, I was really confused but Gregson was so determined. He further explained, “Don’t worry man, it will not be a difficult task to do it online. At the beginning of the contest, a test speech of 5-7 minute duration will be played and you can make your preparatory notes if you want. Then, you are sent to a breakout room where you are given another 5 minutes to prepare for your evaluation. When 5 minutes are gone, you have to keep your notes upside down and move away from your notes.” But, you know Watson, I was a bit suspicious. “Wait, Greg, how can they be sure that all contestants are following the procedure?” Greg laughed and told me, “I know about your detective brain Holmes, but the rules are strong. Sergeant-at-arms will be monitoring you, so you have to keep your webcam and audio on. After that, in the order of speaking, you will have to leave the breakout room and log into a separate meeting where you have to present your evaluation. During this presentation, you can look at your notes.”
“Hmm.. that seems pretty smart,” I told Greg. “But I am not that handy with Zoom. Will I face any technical difficulties?” I asked him. Greg convinced me by saying, “No problem at all, the organizing committee has made all the arrangements to conduct practice sessions during two weeks before preliminaries, so you can get solved any doubts you have.”
Alike, Greg somehow managed to get me registered for the competition through the Gavel UoC website and I still remember how he advised me, “Holmes, you are really good at making comments on how people eat, wear and walk but here, remember to consider only what the speaker says and his body language. Also, provide proper reasoning for your comments.”
I was kind of overconfident and told Greg that I am going to wear my old coat with a funny hat so that everyone will see I am a good evaluator. “Please,” told Greg, “Never think of wearing that to the contest. You will have to wear a formal dress and also Holmes, do not take hours long for observations and comments. You should manage it between 5-7 minutes. I am sure Holmes, you will do a great job here.” Greg encouraged me all the way. So, my dear Watson that is the story of how I began my work as an evaluator. I should mention that it was a life turning event for me.” Holmes ended his story with a calm smile on his face.
There was a deep silence in the living room afterward because even I was astonished by his wonderful story about Enliven 2021. I decided to write another complete blog about this incident as it would definitely be a big hit as same as Enliven 2021.
P.S. by the author
So, are you feeling excited too? Feel like going back to 2020 and participate in the evaluation contest? No worries! You just time traveled with me to the future. Still, you are not late that it is 2020. No need to wait anymore. Just click on the following link and get yourself registered today! It is the right time to reveal Sherlock Holmes inside you!
Link for registration: https://www.gavel.cmb.ac.lk/?page_id=1116