Hands up if you’d like to improve your public speaking – each time you do a presentation. Well here’s some great tips from speaking coach Charles Greene for doing just that.
He suggests you hand out a feedback form every time you present. And Charles even published the 8 questions he asks his own audiences after every talk.
To save time and effort, just use Charles’s questions
So to save yourself time and effort, you could just use Charles’s questions instead of “reinventing the wheel”. (Thank you, Charles, for sharing generously.)
I really like that Charles asks just 8 questions, so most people will be happy to respond. And most of his form simply asks people to rate his talk on a fixed scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” (a Likert scale) against various criteria. For instance, his 1st question asks people the degree to which they agree that:
“The speaker grabbed my attention.”
Using an agree/ disagree scale makes it easy for people to respond
Like by using just 8 questions, using an agree/disagree scale makes it easy for people to respond, which will greatly boost the response rate.
Mind you, he does also ask a few “open-ended” questions where people write out their answers in their own words. For instance, his last question is really neat:
“What question do you have now that you wish had been answered?”
What a great way to improve your content, and to prepare for giving the same talk again.
You get much more insight from open-ended questions
I really like using both fixed-scale (agree/disagree) and open-ended questions. Most people are happy to answer fixed-scale questions because those are so quick and easy. Yet you get much more insight from open-ended questions – but only a few people will take the time to answer them.
So using the 2 types of questions gives you the best of both worlds:
- A high response rate to the fixed-scale questions
- Insights (and even testimonials) from the few open-ended answers you get.
You might like to add one more question to your feedback form: At the end of forms I’ve used, I usually ask people to (optionally) give their name and contact details. That approach has 2 benefits:
- Asking for their name last means the earlier feedback is likely much more candid.
- Marking the question as optional underlines that I’m mainly interested in their honest opinion, but that I’d like the chance to respond if they’re happy to add their name.
In the case of positive feedback, getting the person’s name also lets you credit them, which makes your testimonials more credible. And it builds a great relationship with one of your happy customers too!
So I hope Charles’s post inspires you to give out feedback forms each time you present.
Feedback forms are often poorly thought out
His questions sharply contrast with many feedback forms I’ve seen, which is a good thing. That’s because feedback forms are often poorly thought out. For instance, recently I saw a form (after a webinar) that asked me to rate the event on a fixed scale, but didn’t ask me what I liked or disliked.
So in that case, imagine what would happen if most people rated the webinar poorly. What could the organisers actually do to improve their rating next time? D’oh! Maybe someone should tell them that finding out what caused the response they get should be a vital part of the process!
- What are your thoughts on getting feedback after your talks?
- What examples have you seen of good (or bad) feedback questions?
- Please share your experiences by using the comment box below.
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P.S. Sheila Robinson recently published a great post about feedback forms.
She suggests asking how people felt during a session, and giving them a list of items (like “renewed”, “bored”, “inspired”, and “angry”) to tick, which makes the question even quicker to answer than a Likert scale.
I bet that the speed with which people can answer – and the fact they merely pick from suggested labels for their emotions – means they feel they can respond freely, and that their feelings are being heard. That should make for a positive audience experience!
Craig, Thanks for the taking a look at my feedback form. Using the form has allowed me to improve my presentations by seeing exactly what works and, more importantly, what didn’t.
All presentation audiences are different. In spite of the advance work that I do to meet their needs, sometimes something gets missed or a question goes unasked during the presentation. The feedback form lets me know how what that specific audience felt about the presentation and how closely I got to reaching my goal of meeting their particular needs.
As every presentation has a “weak” link, finding that out is powerful information. It can change from presentation to presentation for different reasons. However, if the responses point to a consistent “weak” link, then I make changes to improve that specific area.
I do like your optional question of asking for their name. Options are always good. Thanks for sharing that idea.
Thanks very much for commenting, Charles.
I think you’ve come up with such a strong set of questions, and as I said it’s very generous of you to share them.
If every proficient speaker shares just 1 or 2 of their great techniques publicly, the standard of presentations would surely increase, which has got to be good for everyone!
Charles is awesome. And I’m not just saying that because he’s a friend, but he’s honed his skills over many years and really knows what he’s doing. Thanks for sharing what he’s doing with your audience.
You can tell just from the posts on Charles’s blog that he’s built up a great deal of expertise over the years.
Thanks for commenting, Carl. It’s always a pleasure to share presentation experts’ great work.