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Welcoming Feedback


By Kelly Vandever

“How do you think it went?”

That was the question the facilitator of the train-the-trainer course asked me.

I was standing in front of a group of my peers. I’d just finished delivering a portion of a program and I anticipated that I’d be receiving feedback not offering my advice.

My focus as I delivered my segment of the training class was on remembering and delivering the material. I was prepared to receive feedback. I hadn’t really thought about how I felt about the material I’d just delivered.

I mumbled something, I forget what. Probably something along the lines of what I thought they wanted to hear.

In reality, I thought it had gone well. But I was more interested in hearing feedback from my colleagues.

Receiving Feedback

Feedback is a funny thing.

I remember the first time I received feedback from multiple people for a speech. I thought it would be terrifying. But it turned out to be wonderful. I found out what resonated with different audience members. I heard how others understood or didn’t understand my message. It was extremely helpful.

Yet many of us, when we practice, are nervous about having someone else give us feedback. But I encourage my clients to do it anyway.

Video Recordings Are Great But…

No doubt, one of the best ways to see for yourself is to record your presentation when rehearsing. The camera never lies. The camera doesn’t try to keep from hurting your feelings.

But there’s a substantial drawback to watching yourself on video rather than practicing with a friendly audience.

The camera won’t tell you if what you say is understood. It won’t tell you if it followed the flow of your information. And even when watching a video, you may not hear the verbal ticks that are distracting your audience. That’s way it’s important to ask for a little help from your friends.

Seek a Friendly Audience

Whether it’s family, friends, trusted colleagues, or your boss, find people to make up a friendly audience and ask them to watch you practice your presentation.

Ask them to be honest with you in their feedback. Tell them you know they’re coming from a place of love and that you know what they say is intended to help.

Then ask them to look for the following types of things…

  • Were there any physical distracting mannerisms?
  • Did they hear any verbal ticks such as “um,” “ah,” “you know”?
  • Does the presentation make sense?
  • Could they follow the flow?
  • Were there any parts that were confusing?
  • Do they have any other recommendations?

All of us have eyes and ears and we can express how we feel about what we hear and see. Take the time to listen.

Listen without Interruption or Justification

As you listen to the feedback, resist the urge to justify why you presented the information the way you did. Listen to what they have to say. See if you see head nods from others in the room indicating that they felt the same way.

Absorb what they have to say.

Ask for recommendations on what you could do better or do instead.

You Make the Ultimate Call

In the end, it’s still your presentation. Take in the advice and decide what works for you and what doesn’t. You might hear some recommendations that don’t fit with your style. Fine. Don’t use that piece of advice.

You may have seen a lot of head nods around confusion with a particular part of your presentation. Rework that area to make it understandable, then ask for more feedback.

Ultimately, your presentation should be about serving your audience. Ask for feedback so that you can do the best job possible delivering value with your presentation.

Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world. Learn how opening up and speaking practically can bring you better business results. Connect Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her at Kelly.Vandever @ SpeakingPractically.com or tweet her @KellyVandever.