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Learn From Public Speaking Feedback

Feedback for many speakers can be a touch issue. Novice public speakers want to know how to improve but they rarely ask for the very thing that can help them do so. Truth be told, feedback can help us perform better as a speaker and should be welcomed as an important learning tool. As I speech coach in my Boston practice, I often hear beginning students lament not getting adequate feedback on their speeches. A simple change in practice of asking for feedback can make all the difference in your speaking outcomes.

Always Ask for Feedback

As a speaker you are in a unique position to get feedback both during your preparation and at its delivery. My general rule for a speech of any importance is that you first practice it many times while recording yourself in front of a webcam or smart phone. You then can view, take notes and learn from your early attempts at delivering your speech. In latter stages of speech practice, when you are more prepared, it helps to practice in front of friends, family & coworkers. Always ask them to give you honest written and verbal feedback on your speech. This should not be sugar coated niceties but rather forthright and in-depth insights on what you are doing right as well as where you can improve.

Get it in Writing

When giving a speech you should always have ready a feedback form for audience members to fill out and return at the end of your speech. This form should ask pertinent question about both content and delivery. Question should always touch upon the fundamental goals and objectives of your speech as well as open ended questions that give them a chance to let you know where you can improve. Additionally, don’t require anyone identify themselves on the feedback form, unless they want to. In this way, you might get more honest feedback on your speech. Some example questions for a speaker feedback form might be:

  • Did the speech meet your expectations?
  • What did you find most useful about the presentation or speech?
  • What did you find least useful about the speech?
  • What else would you like to see in future speeches on the same topic?
  • What is your overall feedback on the speaker?

Of course there can be more specific questions added catering to your particular content and audience. The most important thing is that you will get invaluable insights into your speech content and delivery.

Listen, Think and Learn

Post speech you can collect your feedback and review it at a later date. This feedback will help you dramatically improve your speaking and communications capacity but you need to be open minded about receiving it. Give yourself time to digest, think about and learn from the feedback your attendees were so graciously willing to share. Practicing active listening is critical in the process of self reflection and learning. Listen deeply, think about what is being said and learn from the process.

Remember that if your goal is to be a better speaker – you should always be open to feedback. Feedback when heeded, can dramatically improve your speaking capacities and outcomes.

7 thoughts on “Learn From Public Speaking Feedback”

  1. In my career I always look for constructive feedback and I do think that feedback should be offered in a way that is not derogatory to the speaker.
    Most of us will take feedback well if it is given in an appropriate manner.
    I have big issues with looking at myself in the mirror and that is where I need to improve my confidence. Do you have any tips to improve in that area?

    1. Samantha, Thanks for your comments. =) Don’t focus on past and negative limiting beliefs but rather future and its infinite potential. Do you want to improve? I wrote a post on one simple exercise called “Owning Your Inner Critic” which might be helpful in questioning (and changing) these limiting beliefs. Believe in yourself; your potential is infinite!

  2. I appreciate feedback because I make notes and try to implement them in to future speeches. Should I ask for written or verbal feedback?

    1. Peter, I think it is always best to get written feedback for your more formal speeches. It gives an audience member time to give you valuable insights and really helps improve your speaking and leadership capacities.

  3. Post-competition, I always see people who didn’t receive a place/award hurriedly running home and I think – what’s the rush? Public speaking feedback is such a vital part of improvement, especially when the adjudicators are seasoned professionals. Great article!

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