Speaking Requires Feedback: The Transformative Power of Constructive Criticism

Speaking requires feedback. It is a game-changer for speakers. From refining your message to captivating your audience, learn how feedback elevates your presentation skills. And learn the three rules for speaker feedback. 


A couple of years back, I found myself knee-deep in speaker prep for a major event. 

Picture this: coaching sessions galore, each aimed at fine-tuning the speakers’ presentations for the big day. Now, most folks were all in, eager to polish their talks to perfection. But there was this one speaker. They had their spiel locked and loaded, no need for our coaching, or so they thought. Every time we reached out to schedule time the answer was “busy,” or “got it all sorted.” 

In the end it was fine by me. I mean, if someone isn’t open to feedback, there’s only so much coaching can do.

Fast forward to the day of the event. Did they bomb? Nah. They delivered an adequate ho-hum presentation, albeit a tad lengthy. In the grand scheme of things, with eight talks in the lineup, the event was still a success. (The event planners were grateful to all the other speakers who came in under time.) 

But here’s the thing – it kinda broke my heart. This speaker? They had stories and expertise to share, and buried deep within their PowerPoint, a nugget of brilliance. Yet without a feedback loop, that talk was like a bird with clipped wings.

Why? Because speaking requires feedback, one of our core Threshold Concepts for Public Speaking.  

It’s not just about what you say; it’s how it lands. And since you can’t listen to yourself while you’re speaking, feedback is essential. 

Three Rules for Speaker Feedback

Now, not all feedback is cut from the same cloth. The good stuff? It plays by three rules:

Rule #1: Feedback should align with the speaker’s goals.

Say you’re aiming to spark a revolution in your team’s mindset. But instead of fueling that fire, you get hit with, “Hey, don’t forget the corporate jargon.” Yeah, not exactly hitting the mark, is it?

Rule #2: Feedback should align with the audience’s perspective.

You’re preaching to a room full of sales gurus, and someone suggests jazzing up your talk with a barrage of data. Hold up. These folks thrive on stories, not spreadsheets.

Rule #3: Timing is everything.

Imagine you’re just brainstorming your talk, and your buddy swoops in, critiquing your font choices. Dude, not cool. Save that nitpicking for the eleventh hour.

A final note on the best type of feedback.

After they give a presentation, clients often come to me seeking feedback. And sure, I’ll give their recordings a listen, but not before I tell them: “Watch it yourself first, then we’ll talk.” Trust me, there’s magic in those self-reflection sessions. Suddenly, you’re not just the speaker; you’re the audience too. And in that moment, you’ll hear things in a whole new light. And that feedback is priceless. 



About The Threshold Concepts for Learning to be an Effective Speaker

Articulation has established Six Threshold Concepts for Learning to be an Effective Speaker. Embrace all six and practice the rituals, habits and patterns associated with them to become a better speaker.

Learn more in our introduction to the Threshold Concepts.