We are all on a journey of self-development. As a speaker, every time you get up onto a speaking platform, regardless if you are speaking to an audience of 5 or 5 000 people – your purpose is to improve your skills as a speaker. In this article, I share my personal insights on what has helped me to improve the skill of speaking in public
COMMON CRUTCH WORDS
FEEDBACK = GROWTH Randy Pausch, an American professor, once famously said: ‘When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.’ When you receive feedback from someone, it means that they still care. Focus on this fact. When you have a growth mindset, you will view feedback as an invaluable process to your growth. You will also pay attention to the advice you receive. However, if you have a non-growth mindset, you will perceive the feedback as a threat. You might even have thoughts like, ‘this person doesn’t like me – that is why they are saying this’.
LABELLING How you label the feedback is how you receive it. Once you received feedback, you have a feeling about it. The feeling then drives the meaning that you give to the feedback. So, if you label feedback as ‘criticism’, you receive it as ‘criticism’ and the meaning that you attach to the feedback becomes ‘criticism’. I often hear people say to me, as I offer them feedback: ‘Criticise me – I am ready,’ to which I correct them and say, ‘I am ready to provide you with developmental feedback.’ Change the label of the feedback and you will change its meaning.
SIFT FACT FROM OPINION If your evaluator is not being specific, ask questions to clarify his/her meaning. If they had said, ‘You had good eye contact’, ask them for specifics to elaborate the meaning. They might then say, ‘You balanced your eye contact with everyone in the room and not only looked to one side of the room’. Especially for developmental feedback, get your evaluator to explain what went wrong in your speech and what can be done differently next time. A not so good example: ‘You did not handle the question session effectively.’ Better: ‘During the question session, you took the questions from one side of the room only. This could make the other parts of the audience feel left out. Next time take questions from all parts of the room.’
WORDS OF ADVICE
YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE Assess if the advice is in line with what the majority is saying, pay attention to it.
STEADY CHANGE It is impossible to apply all the feedback at once. Focus on improving the top two factors that will significantly impact how you speak.
STAND NEXT TO YOUR EVALUATOR versus them standing and you being seated. In this way, you receive the feedback as their equal.
WHAT YOU SEE IN OTHERS IS WHAT YOU BECOME You get better at receiving feedback the more often you are comfortable with providing feedback to others.
Public Speaking Trainer
Dineshrie Pillay CA(SA) is Business Owner and Public Speaking Trainer