I don’t actually want to fail, but the fact is that we learn near to nothing when everything is going along perfectly. Last Friday I was speaking to the National Speakers Association, Illinois Chapter, and was relaying that over the years the best lessons I’ve learned as a speaker do not come from the positive feedback I receive, but the insightful comments on how I can improve. No one wants to hear that they were terrible, and I certainly never hope for that – but I do crave feedback. Ten years ago, a gentleman approached me after a presentation and told me that if I told the story about my grandma in the beginning of my speech instead of at the end, the whole thing would have made a lot more sense, and the audience would probably have liked me more…Liked me more? Oh sheesh! After I stopped crying, I went back and reworked my entire presentation, hired a speaking coach that I continue to see 2-3 times a year (every year) and I continue to improve. Today, because of the hours and years of work, my presentations usually get the highest ratings from the audience and great feedback from the hiring firms. But that doesn’t mean that I think I’m any good. I still work like I did the day after I received the feedback 10 years ago. Every presentation can be better, and I strive for it.
Many times we don’t get honest, insightful and helpful feedback because people are afraid to tell us the truth. It takes too much energy to tell someone how they can improve, and frankly, they don’t care. Many businesses ask their clients to rate their service via a survey. But the questions must be structured properly in order to get the real feedback you need from those who care enough to give it. Try asking a question that may give you insightful feedback like, “Could you give us ONE thing we could do to improve this year?” or some variation on that.
I now have a few people I can count on to give me insightful feedback in addition to my coach, Lou Heckler. And if they haven’t seen me speak in a while I send them a DVD of me speaking and a tin of popcorn begging them to take one hour and give me feedback. I believe this is how I have been able to continue speaking year after year. Recently, I was selected to speak at a large Toastmasters convention. I can guarantee I’ll get some feedback there, and I can’t wait!
How do you get feedback to help your business?