How To Give & Receive Constructive Presentation Feedback
Why Feedback Is Important
We’ve heard it before, to never stop learning. To strive for continuous growth and personal improvement. As intuitive as it sounds, it can be harder than expected.
How do you know what to improve on or why to improve on certain key points? Our personal bias of performance and fear of failure blinds us from our weaknesses. You pinpoint what needs improvement based on feedback.
Feedback is important because it promotes personal and professional growth by targeting key aspects of one’s performance. With ongoing constructive feedback, an individual is able to hone in on individual skill sets in a very organized way.
Without feedback, the progression of growth is slowed. Bad habits are often overlooked and become permanent habits and giving up is more likely to occur as proper structure and guidance isn’t given.
At Presentation Geeks, we’ve completed multiple presentation designs for some of the world’s best speakers and companies. We’ve created downloadable visual presentations, sizzle reels, e-learning solutions and business forecasts reports. What we’re trying to say is we’ve seen it all. By seeing it all, we’ve also heard it all. Feedback is second nature to us and one of the foundational blocks in which our business is built upon. We know how important receiving and giving feedback is.
With that being said, we’ve outlined and gone into more detail on two reasons why feedback is important.
Gauges Audience Engagement
Feedback is important because it can be used as a gauge for audience engagement.
As perfect as we’d like to think we are, everyone has an opportunity to grow. Even a good presentation has at least a couple of things in which it can improve on. With opportunities to grow means feedback to be received. There will always be feedback to receive whether positive or negative.
If you have just completed a presentation and request feedback but receive none, you might think to yourself, “Excellent! There is absolutely nothing I need to improve on.” which unfortunately can mean quite the opposite.
Receiving no feedback could be an indication that you lost the audience’s attention. How can they provide feedback when they weren’t even listening to begin with?
Before jumping to the worst case scenario, there are a few things you can do to help weed out whether your presentation was not engaging.
First, try adding easier ways for the audience to engage with you and provide feedback. By having audience members sign-up online, you can get their email address and follow up with a feedback form such as SurveyMonkey.
Feedback forms are great because it allows the audience to easily provide feedback without needing to go out of their way to do it.
You might also take the approach of getting direct feedback. If there is an opportunity after the presentation to interact with the crowd and break off into small group chats, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Most people are more than happy to provide feedback and want to!
Improves Presentation Skills
Asking for feedback will also help improve your presentation skills.
When people are asked to give feedback on a presentation, most of the feedback you will receive will be on your delivery or the slides.
You’ll receive feedback such as, “You effectively command attention.” or, “Your slides could be more visually appealing.” or, “You overdid it on the facial expressions and they became a bit distracting.”.
The feedback you’ll receive will be both positive and negative. Don’t forget, it’s up to you to ask for the feedback, receive the feedback and take action on it. By taking action on the feedback as it relates to your presentation skills or your presentation slides, you’ll ultimately improve on your presentation skills.
Now that we know why feedback is important, let’s go over how to give and receive feedback.
How To Give Constructive Presentation Feedback
People are always looking for feedback yet not enough people give honest, good, constructive feedback. The feedback received is rarely helpful.
Giving constructive presentation feedback is an art you should master. By being able to not only receive constructive criticism, but give it as well, you’ll get a better appreciation for other people’s presentation skills and reflect upon yours. It will make navigating your own feedback journey easier.
Below you’ll find ways on how to give constructive feedback next time you’re asked.
Focus On Behaviour, Not The Person
When giving feedback, make sure it’s on the skills a person can control and change such as their behaviour rather than themselves as a person.
When you give feedback which targets a person’s character rather than their behaviour, they’ll become defensive and the feedback comes across as harsh criticism rather than constructive feedback.
When giving feedback, follow up with an actionable item the person can do to work towards improving.
For example, if you felt their presentation didn’t flow well and you were lost as an audience member, don’t just leave it at that. Expand upon your comment by suggesting they add a slide outlining key agenda items. Take it a step further and explain why you suggested this.
You may say, ” I would suggest adding a slide which outlines key objectives because it will give the audience clear takeaways as to what to expect throughout the presentation. This is something I felt was missing.”
This is an actionable item someone can take away and implement and you’ve backed it up with a strong reason as to why they should do it.
Make sure the feedback you’re providing is specific.
Don’t just say someone needs to improve their communication skills. Be specific!
You could frame the feedback in a way that targets different forms of communication. You could pinpoint to their body language or their oral presentation. Both are forms of communication skills and without being specific, they wouldn’t know what to improve upon.
Learning and growing is an ongoing progression. We can’t go from 0 – 100 overnight. We need to set realistic boundaries with the feedback we provide.
You want to be realistic when you communicate key points someone can improve on to ensure they don’t get discouraged and quit.
If requested to give feedback, be sure to do it in a timely manner.
Providing feedback in a timely manner will not only benefit the one asking, but you as well as you’re able to provide more accurate feedback.
As time goes on, you’ll begin to forget the small details that made up the entire presentation. By giving feedback in a timely manner, you’ll be able to provide more accurate and effective feedback.
Offer Continuing Support
Continuing support will take your ability to provide feedback to the next level and is immensely helpful.
Offer continuing support will allow you to establish a long-lasting rapport with people. These same people will most likely be providing you with feedback in the future.
Giving ongoing support will also allow you to become a master of your craft. The best way of fully understanding a topic is by teaching it. To become a master of presenting, you also need to be open to giving feedback. It will help you remain consistent.
End On A Positive Note
Lastly, end all feedback on a positive note.
The best growth and learning stems from positive reinforcement which can be as simple as ending things off with a positive note. Be mindful and honest with what positive note you want to end on.
A sincere compliment is far more effective than one that feels forced.
How To Receive Constructive Presentation Feedback
Once you’re able to effectively give good constructive feedback, we can now focus on receiving feedback.
What good is asking and receiving feedback if you don’t know what to do with the information. Instead of squandering golden nuggets of information, here is what you should do when asking for feedback after your own presentation.
Once you’ve asked for feedback, stop talking and listen.
Don’t try to justify your reasoning, don’t try and steer the conversation in a direction which favours your actions, just listen.
Be Aware Of Your Responses
Be aware of your responses to feedback. This includes body language, facial expressions and social cues.
You don’t want to come across as if you’re taking the feedback too personally. This will make the person providing the feedback feel like they’re hurting your feelings and they should stop or begin sugarcoating the feedback.
This will only result in inauthentic feedback which is not constructive. You want to be creating a space which can create dialogue surrounding helpful feedback.
You’ll receive a bunch of feedback over your life and the only way to grow is to be completely open with all the feedback you’ll receive.
The moment you start to close yourself off from feedback, is the moment you hinder your progression and growth.
Understand The Message
Before you leave with the feedback, make sure you fully understand what the person was trying to say.
The worst thing you can do is change something that isn’t broken. Before you walk away to start changing things, always make sure you know what you’re about to change is correct.
Reflect & Process
After you received the feedback, take time to reflect and process. This is a perfect time to conduct a self-evaluation on how you believe you did with your presentation.
Does the other person feel the same way? What are the differences they saw in my presentation that I didn’t see?
Don’t forget, we are perfectly imperfect human beings. You will never have a perfect presentation. With varying audiences all interested in something unique, you will have a hard time crafting presentation material with key messages that is compelling to everyone.
Always follow up.
Following up allows you to take action and measure your success to see if you’ve changed for the better.
Following up also makes sure the other person feels heard. What is the point of giving feedback if the person you give it to does nothing with it?
By following up, it shows you’ve taken their feedback to heart and you’re taking action.