The most powerful thing a speaker can do to connect with their audience is to ask for feedback. It shows you value the audience's opinion. Recently, I posted a video blog with 3 keys to giving effective feedback. But why is feedback so darned important to speakers?
Feedback Leads to Improvement
The only way to grow as a speaker is to get feedback. At Toastmasters, we often say that “evaluation is at the heart of Toastmasters”. Knowing what your strengths are as a speaker as well as the areas where there is room for growth is key for development as a presenter. Build on your strengths and improve upon those weakness. Feedback will lead to speaking success!
Continually Ask for Evaluations
Whenever you present get evaluated. There is the immediate feedback that the audience gives you while your speaking. After you finished your presentation, sit down and reflect. When was the audience most engaged? When were they wishing they were somewhere else? In addition to that immediate feedback, ask the audience for written comments. What about your message impacted them the most? What areas could you improve on?
Sift through the Feedback
If you are always asking for feedback, you are going to get a lot of it! Not all of it is created equally. I was once told that for a speech I was doing on Hawaii that I should wear a coconut bra and grass skirt – creative – but not going to happen! When you get a lot of feedback on a speech, you need to sort through and see what works for you. If someone has a suggestion for a joke, why not try it out the next time you give the speech. Push yourself try new ideas you get from feedback in your presentation. Lose the ideas that don't work for you as a speaker.
Don't Underestimate the Power of Video
My arch nemesis – the video camera! 99% of people hate watching themselves on video and the other 1% are narcissists. I kid! One of the most effective ways to improve a presentation is to put yourself in the place of the audience. Watch yourself on video. Look for the strengths and the challenges of your delivery and message. You know best what you need to improve upon. Video yourself – watch – evaluate and repeat. You'll be amazed at how much you improve.
My final thought on feedback is to remember feedback is subjective. Taste will vary wildly. Remember, feedback is never personal and is aimed at helping you grow as a speaker.
What was the most helpful piece of feedback you ever received on presentation? Or what was the funniest piece of feedback you ever heard? Love to interact with you in the comment section below.