When we’re learning a new skill or enhancing existing skill sets, one of the most important parts of that learning curve is feedback. Honest feedback helps individuals to learn and grow in a fashion that is supportive and appreciative. For many, feedback serves as an important motivator for growth and expansion, allowing the recipient to gain real-time constructive points to help improve their performance.
Understanding how we are perceived by others is paramount when learning a new skill, especially one in the field of communication.
The best feedback takes place when the provider is actively listening, analyzing and offering the best solutions for improved performance. Improved focus typically leads to improved results, making feedback an essential mechanism to effective public speaking.
At shiftED, we know that offering constructive and positive feedback is the cornerstone to improvement and building confidence for our students. Most people begin their public speaking journey with an overly critical view of their own performance. Taking this under consideration when offering pathways to improvement is highly important to ensure that morale stays high and the recipient is able to fully listen, absorb, and act on the specific points they are provided.
Because constructive feedback enables the recipient to fully evaluate the effectiveness of their message, it is a vital part of the communication process. In fact, many would argue that the communication process isn’t complete without it.
When offered in a supportive and constructive manner, feedback can improve a learner’s confidence, motivation, and, ultimately, their commitment to moving forward. Believe it or not, 65% of employees say they would like more feedback and companies that regularly engage in employee feedback have a 15% lower turnover rate than those that do not offer performance insight.
Although feedback is often referred to as constructive criticism, the word criticism itself typically focuses almost entirely on the problem, rather than offering workable solutions. Feedback on the other hand, recognizes areas where things go well in addition to areas where improvement is possible. Then, working with the recipient to come up with constructive pathways to resolve those challenges, helping them move forward more confidently and with higher motivation to excel.
The main thing to remember when you’re implementing a feedback protocol is that it must provide actionable steps for improvement and heightened focus. In order to effectively offer this type of environment, you must provide a safe space where both senders and recipients feel secure enough to ask questions, seek answers, and share thoughts and ideas.
Feedback is generally best absorbed soon after the analyzed action takes place. For public speaking, this enables the recipient to receive input while the topics are fresh and the recommended solutions are highly actionable given the proximity to delivery. If it is possible to set aside 10 minutes after the event to debrief in a safe and secure environment, in-person feedback can be a very valuable asset to growth. For transformative results, collecting notes and putting together a feedback report within a week or so of the event is also a very effective option. This provides emotional and psychological distance from the event and allows for greater self-awareness.
As a speaker, you may be able to garner some of your own feedback by analyzing how your audience responds to your content while you’re delivering. Verbal & physical responses such as agreement or nodding and hand raising are good indicators that your audience is engaged with your content. And while question periods can be highly intimidating for new speakers, they are often a great sign that you have engaged your audience if they are seeking to learn more.
If you’re looking to implement a feedback mechanism in your organization or are interested in learning more about how to maximize the effectiveness of personal feedback you’ve received, here are a few best practices to consider:
At shiftED, we have developed a tool called 3D Feedback to provide well rounded, constructive, and actionable solutions for our students as they move through our programming. This 3D Feedback form is used during workshop programs to allow participants to offer feedback for each other. The forms are completed in real time immediately after participants present, and then the person who did the presentation is provided with aggregate feedback afterwards to use as a resource for their next iteration. For our 1:1 clients, the feedback mechanism is completed by our Founder and Principal, Tisha Parker Kemp, with a more direct approach that is in line with their goals.
The first thing to determine when creating a feedback protocol is the desired goals and outcomes. Understanding where you are trying to go will enable you to create feedback prompts that further that journey specifically, saving time and energy overall.
Feedback should be specific and actionable, so creating questions that prompt answers that align with these principles is paramount. Remember that learning is collaborative and consistent, so creating room for extended growth is also important. Keep questions open-ended enough to encompass a wide variety of constructive points, but not too vague as to encourage fewer actionable solutions.
Ultimately, however, for a feedback protocol to be effective, there must be a culture of trust within which to take place. Honest and useful feedback can only really be attained when both the sender and receiver feel comfortable voicing their true thoughts.