“Feedback is the food of champions” Ken Blanchard
Feedback is how we learn, grow, become more self-aware and find out if we have done a good job or not. It shouldn’t be something to avoid or to be scared of. Most often, it is the fear of not doing a great job, negative criticism or being judged that gives feedback a bad name.
However, in all of my public speaking workshops and coaching that I do, I readily give people constructive feedback. It is both positive in the form of praise and sometimes critical in the form of ways to improve or change for the better. But my clients know that my feedback is only in my eyes and is not necessarily correct. They also know in advance that I will be giving them feedback on their speeches. This is structured, prepared and expected feedback.
I also encourage my clients to seek feedback on all of their future presentations and public speaking assignments. Ask a friend or colleague to give you their feedback. Or get a presentation video recorded and get a coach to give you feedback.
Beware of unsolicited feedback
But after you have been presenting for a while, you will notice that there are those people who come up to you and give you uninvited, unsolicited feedback. I know, I used to be such a person who would critique every presenter’s speech and then come up to them and give them tips. I cringe at the thought and the way my advice was uninvited.
So while feedback is a fantastic way to learn and grow and a great source for revealing our blind spots, you do not have to accept unsolicited feedback. Most often, unsolicited feedback negatively impacts us because we take it personally. As a result, it could set us back and instead of helping us grow and become better, unsolicited feedback will pull us down.
“Never react emotionally to criticism. Analyze yourself to determine whether it is justified. If it is, correct yourself. Otherwise, go on about your business.” Norman Vincent Peale
What is a good feedback?
Good feedback is specific, immediate, honest, and actionable. It is always in a positive form but it can also be in critical form, both of which are intended to help the person receiving the feedback to improve or change for the better.
Specific – Targeted towards specific aspects of the presentation and the way the presenter has presented rather than his or her views and personality. Also avoid generalisations and vague feedback like, “that was great”, or “that was not very good”.
Immediate or Timely – Focused on what the presenter did or performed recently and not something that happened way in the past. The immediacy enables you to reflect and remember and adapt, in real time.
Honest – True and genuine, not made up and completely irrelevant to the presentation or to the presenter. You may need to give someone permission to be honest in their feedback.
Actionable – Intended to help the presenter change for the better; allows the presenter to do something about the feedback or take steps that are in line with the feedback for his or her improvement. This means clear easy actionable steps.
Although you cannot control every person on when and how to give feedback, you can choose who to seek feedback from. And even if you are seeking feedback, you don’t have to act on all feedback. Choose only the feedback that you know is valid and can be implemented to help you become better speakers and presenters.
Keep in mind that it is always better to receive feedback that you have asked for, from people who are skilled and who you trust, and be wary of that random unsolicited feedback.