March 11, 2012

Get Feedback From The Right Group

by Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012

Feedback is easy to get. The challenge is getting feedback from the right group. You may think you want a group similar to your target audience. Maybe not.

There's another choice: a general group that isn't familiar with your topic. They are ideal for spotting what's "obvious" to you but a mystery to them. If you're skeptical, watch several TED Talks. The topics range widely but can be understood by an intelligent audience.

the right audience?Worst?

Feedback from colleagues or experienced speakers may be the least valuable unless they are good at understanding audiences other than themselves. They may also suffer from strong biases for the “right” way to present (which means their way).

In the end, you decide what feedback to act upon. Getting the wrong inputs makes this more difficult.


Also, consider collecting written feedback from your entire audience on simple forms. You may be surprised at the range of opinions. If you're told that you
     A) relied too heavily on notes, and
     B) spoke from memory
you're probably fine. If the feedback is only A or B, you've got an opportunity for improvement.

What About Work?

At work, you may face additional constraints, especially if you're developing a presentation for your boss or someone with strong views on presentations.

You could create your own version of the presentation (removing any proprietary information) and deliver it at your Toastmasters club as a lesson and get feedback. You might speak at other clubs too.


Recording your presentation is an effective way to practice. Video is best but audio is good too. You then get feedback directly from yourself.

We can't tell how an audience reacts without feedback. Magician Dai Vernon said we can sweat in private or in public. Your semi-private Toastmasters club is an ideal place to practice.


You’ll find more about Promod Sharma at

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