One of the best ways to grow your presentation skills is doing dry runs of your speech or workshop in front of an audience of colleagues.
So when it’s your turn to observe, the act of giving feedback might feel awkward or confusing. What if you hurt their feelings? What if you miss important areas that they need help on? What if your opinions are wrong?
To become better at giving feedback to a colleague, keep these four tips in mind next time you’re watching them practice a presentation.
Chat with the person beforehand to discuss how they would like feedback given. Some enjoy on the spot and real-time comments that interrupt his or her flow. Others prefer feedback to be written down and shared with them once the presentation comes to an end. Decide ahead of the format and time that your colleague would like you to give them notes so that you two can be on the same page.
Does your colleague want you to pay extra attention to body language? How about verbal tics and filler words? Are they looking to extend his or her vocal range? Before you observe the presentation, ask the other person if there are specific areas they want feedback on or that they’d like you to pay closer attention to.
Organize your comments. Instead of keeping a running list of changes and suggestions, split your feedback up into categories (ex. Body language, spoken language, presentation slides, etc.). This will help you refer back to specifics when reviewing your observations with your colleague. It will also make it easier for them to digest your notes once you leave the room.
Get specific. Jot down examples of what your colleague did that you believe they can improve. Rather than telling them they should work on eye contact, tell them that when they are referring to the graph on slide number four, they should make more of an effort to stand forward facing rather than give the audience the ‘cold shoulder’ and stare at the slide.
It can be awkward to be the one doing the critique, so work together and set expectations for the process. Know the specific areas to pay attention to before the presentation starts. For best results, split your feedback into categories and always showcase specific examples.
As an observer, you have an important job to do. When you give a colleague feedback you can help your colleague improve their presentation skills.
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