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How to know what feedback to consider, and how to purposefully ask for feedback to improve your performance. Public speaking and presentation tips.


00:02 Michael: Welcome to Steal the Show with Micheal Port, this is Micheal. Welcome back. I hope you are a subscriber, I hope you’ve rated and reviewed because if you haven’t, today is going to be the day you do because I am joined by Amy soon to be Port, my lovely bribe-to-be, my partner at Heroic Public Speaking. She is the co-founder and she is a joy. Hi Amy.

00:30 Amy: Hi.

00:31 Michael: So Friday Fan Mail. It may not be actually Friday when we post this but we call it Friday Fan Mail. We just stole that from our friend Jordan Harbinger, he called it Friday Fan Mail, we said, “Alright, we’ll call it Friday Fan Mail.” Pretty simple. And this is where we take questions from people who write in, and Ellen Latham who is the founder of Orangetheory Fitness, you may be familiar with it, it’s a very very big franchise company, fitness company. And she asked, “How do I know what advice to take?” She said… She heard, “Your energy was amazing.” And then she heard, “I think you’d do better if you did not keep your energy so high.” So how does she know who to listen to or does she listen to either one of them? And this is really, really interesting to us because any type of speaking is a type of performance, so it’s art. And most people know what they like, they don’t always know why they like it and if they don’t like it, they may be able to tell you what they’d rather have you do but they probably can’t tell you how to do that.

01:46 Amy: And they probably couldn’t do it themselves. That’s something we see very often is that people are very often apt to give criticism or feedback or say, “May I be brutally honest?” Or “May I give you some constructive criticism?”

02:00 Michael: Brutally honest, I’ll show you brutal. Here’s my fist buddy. I mean come on. [chuckle]

02:05 Amy: But that doesn’t mean they’re willing to get up and do the work and be the performer themselves. Which is why you’ve heard Micheal say so many times and I back it every single time, “You cannot be both a critic and a performer.” When you are in that mode of criticizing, it puts you in a frame of mind that makes it very difficult to be creative. So as a performer… We’re a little off here for a moment, but as a performer, it’s really important that you not be critical of others. It will stop the flow of your own creative juices, so to speak.

02:38 Michael: Thank you. It’s always a great reminder for everyone. Now what do you do when you get the feedback? Do you just say, “Oh okay, thanks,” and then just blow it off or do you say, “No, I’m not interested.” Or do you say, “No actually, I wasn’t doing that, I was doing this,” or… I mean there’s so many different responses that people might be inclined to give or they give a response and then five minutes later, “Oh shoot, I wish I had thought this.” Because sometimes feedback’s very helpful, sometimes somebody will give you some feedback that actually shows you another way to have a positive effect on an audience and that’s what you’re looking for. So do you only listen to people you know, know what they’re talking about or can somebody that you don’t know and maybe normally they have no experience in this particular area but they give you some piece of feedback and it’s quite brilliant, it’s fantastic. How do you know what the right feedback is and that’s what Ellen’s asking. “How do I know if my energy was where it should be, or if I should have had less energy? How do I know what’s right?” That’s her question. And that’s not an easy answer, it’s really not. And that’s why the better prepared you are, the easier it is to deal with feedback because you know why you made the choices you made, and that’s the difference.

04:07 Michael: When you give a speech and you wing it, you are coming up with your strategies, your tactics, even your ideas in the moment. And often you’re less secure about your performance afterwards even if you feel like you did an okay job because you’re not really sure what you did, or you’re not really sure why you made the choices you made, or you were making them on the fly. But if you are well prepared and you’ve made the choices going in, then you know why you have chosen to use a particular tactic to affect the audience, you know why you chose to use a particular audience interaction technique, you know why you chose to sit down at the edge of the stage and have a very simple, honest, straightforward conversation with the audience, you know why you got up on the chair to do x, y, and z. You know why. Now, some people may resonate with some of your choices and others… And they may not resonate as much with other choices but it doesn’t mean you should change them. If you know why you made the choices and you feel that it was a good choice and you feel that you’re having an effect on the audience with it, and for the most part, you are seeing the effect, you’re seeing the change, then you keep it. You just don’t change it because random people are telling you to change it.

05:24 Amy: And then consider too, the source of the feedback. Personally, I like to ask for feedback. I have that as part of my rehearsal process. We teach our students to have that as part of their rehearsal process, so that we actually train the people who we ask to come in and watch, how to give feedback to us that is useful.

05:43 Michael: One of the things that we offer our students is a specific form that they use to get the feedback because you may want feedback on a particular area of your presentation or a particular technique that you’re using but not on all of it. And you wanna keep them very focused, so one of the things that you can do if somebody gives you feedback and you didn’t ask for it, or let’s even if you did, you can say… You can ask them some questions first, or after they give you the feedback, you say, “Okay, so do you know what my big idea was in the speech?” And if they did then you go, “Okay, good, I know I delivered on that. “Do you know what my promise was in the speech, what I was delivering for you?” And if they, “Yeah, this is what your promise was.” And then you can say, “Did I deliver that? Did you get that? Did you feel like you walked away with that?” And if they say, “No, not all”, well then you have some thinking to do. But if they say, “Yeah, I got that, absolutely.” And then you might ask them, “Well, do you see the benefits of achieving that or making that change, et cetera?” And they go, “Absolutely.” Then you can put their feedback into perspective.

07:04 Michael: If they said, “Oh, you should have had more energy doing this.” You say, “Well, I achieved my objectives. This is what you’re thinking, I did exactly what I was here to do.” They may just like a style of performance that’s different then my style. And you’re not gonna change your style just because somebody wants a different style. Your goal is not to get approval from every single person, your goal is to deliver on your promise. One of our colleagues got some feedback on an eval form. The participant didn’t seem to like his sense of humor and they said, “I came here to learn social media, if I wanted to laugh the whole time, I would have gone to a comedy club.” And some of the folks we were talking to about it kind of shoved the woman’s opinion aside, her thought aside, and I was thinking, “Well, I get what she’s saying. I think she’s saying that his job is to deliver the promise of the social media advice, not to make them laugh.”

08:17 Michael: If you can make them laugh and deliver on that promise then you’ve nailed it, and maybe most people got that and it’s very likely that most people, and you’re generally not gonna please all the people all the time. But the analogy that came to mind was if you… I was thinking about my son’s third grade math teacher… Third grade homeroom teacher, and Leo had the same…

08:40 Amy: Yes.

08:41 Michael: Yeah, both of our kids went to the same school at different times. He was very funny. I wasn’t sure that the kids were learning what they were supposed to be learning, but the kids loved him. He was super funny, he was super entertaining, which is great, but if a teacher is really funny but he’s not teaching the material, is he doing his job as a teacher? If you go to a comedy club and the comedian is teaching you math, but is not making you laugh, is he doing his job? Probably not, because his responsibility in that environment is to make you laugh. And that’s what we have to remember, what is our responsibility in that environment? And if we are going for something else in order to get the approval of the audience, then we may not be delivering on our promise, and our job is to deliver on that promise.

09:37 Amy: Well put.

09:38 Michael: Thank you very much. So, Ellen, we hope that answers your question. This is something that we go into great depth in all of our work, and in the book “Steal the Show”, I introduce that process as well, how to get feedback, so that may be a resource to go deeper into. But we just want you to remember at this point, if you get some feedback there are some questions you can ask them to help you determine how important that feedback is. Because if you delivered on everything you were there to deliver, that feedback may not be critical. If you didn’t deliver on what you were supposed to deliver, that feedback may be really, really important. And that’s what we… That’ll help in our post mortem, our reflective process to determine what steps to take next to improve our work. There was something else I wanted to say also before we left that.

10:36 Amy: I’ll add in, you don’t have to accept feedback. You can say, if somebody says, “Hey, can I give you some feedback?” You can say, “I’m at a particular formative stage with this piece, and at this point I’d like to just say just thank you so much for coming.”

10:50 Michael: Yeah, sometimes it surprises people, “What? Oh. Oh, okay.” And if they think you’re rude because you don’t want to take feedback that’s perfectly fine.

10:58 Amy: It’s where I am in my creative process with it.

11:00 Michael: Yeah. It’s a… Sometimes you are hyper-critical of yourself too. So, you are in a feedback loop with yourself all the time. Ira Glass, such a talented, talented man, he said that when you start out in any creative field, and I paraphrase of course, he said when you start out in any creative field, you have really good taste and you aspire to producing something quite powerful, but you don’t necessarily have the skill yet, and so what you’re making isn’t up to par, for you.

11:50 Amy: It doesn’t meet your taste.

11:52 Michael: Yes, it doesn’t meet your taste. And you may get frustrated with yourself, and ultimately quit as a result. Because it can feel like a slog going through that process, and when you get criticism from other people around it, even though they think they’re being helpful, it sometimes hurts even more because you’re still in that slog. But you will get to the point where, what you can produce will meet your taste and that was his point and I really resonate with that, I think that’s pretty powerful. So Ellen, we hope that helped you and if your name is not Ellen, we hope that helped you as well. Make sure to subscribe, rate and review. Amy does not accept anything less than a five star review.

12:34 Amy: Nope.

12:35 Michael: She’s a… Be careful about that, she’ll find you and she…

12:38 Amy: There will be a reckoning.

12:39 Michael: And she will give you feedback, let me tell you. No, but listen, we love you very much and not in a weird way, but we love you for being the big thinker that you are, for standing in the service of others and for being willing to take risks and shine during the high stake situations of your life. Bye for now.

12:57 Amy: Bye.