Feedback on your presentation from a colleague, friend, mentor, coach, or boss can be a gift. The feedback allows us to become more self-aware, grow our public speaking skills, eliminate distracting traits and add those missing ingredients. Effective, honest, actionable and specific feedback is truly a gift.
And specific and actionable feedback is a great tool for continuous improvement and presentation evaluation. Nonspecific feedback, such as “that was great” or “you made a few mistakes there” or “that was not bad” give us nothing on which to work on. So be wary of vague nonspecific feedback.
Also, be aware of unsolicited feedback. This is the person who, uninvited, decides to critique your presentation. While well-meaning, their view is often irrelevant or not in the true context of your presentation. I thank them and then got to the colleague or friend who I have tasked with providing me feedback.
I myself don’t like to be asked for feedback after attending an event. People know that I am a professional speaker, and they will often ask me, “well what do you think”. If I am going to give feedback, I like to know beforehand so that I can prepare and come to a presentation with a more analytical mindset.
When I ask people to give me feedback on one of my presentations, I will prepare them beforehand and give them specific areas to comment on and hand them a 1-page cheat sheet.
Here is the outline of my cheat sheet that I give to people that are preparing to be a critic of someone’s speech and are going to give feedback.
Checklist to help provide feedback.
Content and Message
Was the speaker concise and to the point?
Was their message clear and unambiguous or could it be misinterpreted?
In one sentence, what was their message? (Reflect this back to the speaker)
Voice and Speaking Style
How was their voice? Did they use pause? Did they speak at a nice pace?
Were there any filler words, um’s, ah’s, like, you know, etc?
Did they use a conversational style of speaking – “just having a chat with the audience”? Did they look relaxed?
Did they speak to all the audience?
Were they looking at the ceiling, floor, the walls or above your head?
Were they just reading from notes or from their PowerPoint slides?
Was their stance confident?
Was their stance aggressive or passive?
Did they stand still or walk around?
Did they do any aimless walking, pacing or distracting movement (a little dance).
Did they use their hands? Were they appropriate gestures or distracting – repetitive, not in line with what they were saying?
Did they fidget or play with watches, rings, jewelry, pens, paper?
Did they smile?
Did they seem excited, passionate, and pleased to be there?
Or were they bored or uninterested?
Anytime you want feedback, ensure that you provide guidance on what you would like the observer to focus on. You do not want a “that was great”. And if you are ever asked to give feedback on someone’s speech, ask them specifically what they would like you to focus on. Feedback is indeed a gift and like any other gift, you would take care in choosing it, wrapping it and delivering it.
If you would like to develop your Public Speaking Skills and receive great feedback I am running 2 public speaking workshops in November