Learning from Feedback

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset of this post. Everyone needs feedback. The reality is that no matter how compelling, good and effective you think your speech or presentation is, there is a huge advantage in getting someone to assess it and give you feedback. But there’s a slight problem. Many people find it hard to accept feedback. They view it as a personal attack.

In this post you will learn some hard truths about feedback.

  • How can you get feedback on your speech?
  • Why is it so important as an improvement tool?
  • What is the best way to make sure that your feedback is useful?

Speech Feedback

Some Truths About Feedback

For people to appreciate and accept the true value of feedback, they must first understand the following:

  1. Feedback is an important and essential part of your growth as a speaker
  2. Feedback you receive will not always be what you are hoping for
  3. Feedback is not created equal. We need to wean out the good quality stuff

Ensuring That Feedback Is Useful

The term feedback is often used to describe all kinds of comments made after the fact, including praise. But feedback by simple definition is useful information that can help you to develop and move closer towards reaching a goal. In reality, a compliment is generally not something that can bring you closer to a goal. Feedback is usually best served as suggestions for improvement or as ‘constructive’ criticism.

To be effective, it should always be:

  1. Goal-referenced
  2. Actionable
1) Goal-referenced

First of all, feedback requires that a person has a goal. This goal needs to be referenced in the feedback received. If you are not clear on your goals in a speech or if you fail to pay attention to them you cannot get useful feedback.

It’s important to make clear the purpose of your presentation clear to the person who will give you their input. By knowing the answers to the questions below the person providing feedback can carefully craft their response.

  • What is the purpose or core message of the presentation?
  • Who are the beneficiaries (the intended audience)?

Speech Feedback

Also if there is a particular aspect of your speaking which you would like to improve, you can ask the evaluator before you speak to watch out for it (e.g., talking too fast; making eye contact, etc.)

2) Actionable

Effective feedback needs to be actionable. You will always get better information if you ask the exact questions that you need answers for. You can ask general questions about the presentation’s quality or about the clarity of the arguments. Is the language appropriate for the target audience? Or is the speech well disposed? However, it is better to ask more specific questions. You will get more specific ways to improve as a result.

How to Get Goal-Referenced, Actionable Feedback

To maximise it’s usefulness, ask for feedback straight after a speech. Ask several people about their perceptions:

  • What did you like most about the talk?
  • What are your suggestions for improvement?

Analysing the Feedback You Receive

When receiving feedback it’s important to keep an open mind. At all time, remember that it’s the presentation that is being criticised, not you – so don’t take it personal! People have different views. One person likes what another person dislikes. The secret is to strike a balance of different views.

Sometimes you’ll be on the receiving end of pretty harsh feedback, which sometimes you deserve, sometimes you don’t. This is something you need to learn to deal with. The best way to handle it is to ask yourself:

  • Can I learn from this?
  • Can I do something different to benefit my audience from this?

If the answer is yes, great! Time to take action. If the answer is no, just let it go.

Feedback from You

To sum it all up, feedback plays a huge part in developing your public speaking skills. It is the fast track to developing your ability as a speaker.

Speech Feedback

Do you have any special techniques which you use to get feedback when you speak? If you are somebody that evaluates others regularly, what approach do you take? Please get in touch!

I need feedback from my blog readers so that I can continuously improve the content. It is definitely the best way to improve. It’s how I learn and excel. Please send me your comments on this post and other posts on Communicate You blog.