How to get Useful Feedback: A Speaker’s Guide

By Rick Lakin, TMClubSites Webmaster

Let’s start with three truths about feedback:

  1. Most of the feedback you receive as a speaker is not very useful.
  2. Useful feedback is hard to find and uncomfortable to receive.
  3. To reach your potential as a speaker, you require substantial feedback.

These truths present a few conundrums:

  • If most feedback is useless, how and where do you find useful feedback?
  • If receiving feedback is uncomfortable, why would you want to seek it? How do you get in the right frame of mind to accept it?

In this article, we define useful feedback, describe how and where to collect it, and discuss how to adopt a mindset which embraces honest feedback.

Definitions… What is Useful Feedback?

Feedback includes any information you receive about yourself as a speaker, or about any specific speech or presentation. It might be non-verbal or verbal, spoken or written. It might be brief; it might be extensive.

Useful feedback is any feedback you receive which helps you improve your speaking skills, whether it be your writing, delivery, visual design, or anything else.

While comments like “good speech” and “well done” are encouraging and nice to hear, they do not really help you improve.

Positive feedback is any feedback which reinforces something you’ve said or done. For example:

The stories you told at the beginning and end of your presentation really drove home the message for me.

Negative feedback is any feedback which opposes or criticizes something you’ve said or done. For example:

I got lost when you were explaining the steps of the process, and this left me confused during your subsequent demonstration.

Remember that useful feedback includes both positive feedback and negative feedback.

Modes of Capturing Feedback

Okay, so where do we find feedback? And, more importantly, how do we filter out the useless bits and get more useful feedback?

1. Observe non-verbal feedback during your presentation.

There is a wealth of useful feedback staring right back at you every time you speak. For example:

  • Does your audience look confused?
    You’re either speaking too fast, speaking at the wrong level, or lacking in clarity.
  • Does your audience look bored?
    You’re not providing enough value, perhaps repeating something they already know.
  • Does your audience look excited?
    Keep doing more of whatever it is you’re doing.
  • Are they nodding their heads?
    They are accepting your message because they have experienced it.
  • Are they leaving the room?
    That’s not good!
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Andrew Dlugan
Andrew Dlugan is the editor and founder of Six Minutes. He teaches courses, leads seminars, coaches speakers, and strives to avoid Suicide by PowerPoint. He is an award-winning public speaker and speech evaluator. Andrew is a father and husband who resides in British Columbia, Canada.

Twitter: @6minutes
© Six Minutes, 2015.

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Source:: About Public Speaking

About Rick Lakin, TMClubSites Webmaster