Want to Improve? (Try Asking the Audience)

As someone who works alongside leaders to improve how they communicate one of the most common questions I get asked by people I hear speak is:

“What feedback do you have for me, how can I improve?”

It’s a good question and one that needs to be asked. Great leaders and communicators should obsess about their personal growth and development.

I’m always happy to help. 

But how do you learn when there isn’t someone there focused on observing you?

How can you get feedback on your presentation or meeting that goes beyond the typical ‘it was great, thanks’, when there isn’t someone watching everything you do?

The answer is actually simple. Who better to ask than your audience. Asking the right questions to your audience can give huge insight into areas of personal improvement. It’s also possible to get the feedback in a positive and inconspicuous way. 

Here’s three questions you can ask someone in your audience after you speak to identify personal growth areas:

1.) In your words, what was the key message?

This is a question of clarity

Every effective meeting or presentation should have a clear message that needs to be communicated. Speaking is not just about saying something, but having something valuable to say. Regardless of how many sub-points or ideas are included, these should all point towards the one big idea you are trying to communicate. 

If you ask an audience or team member to summarise your presentation and their key message is different to the one you intended, then there is an issue of clarity which needs to be addressed next time. 

2.) What parts did you find most engaging?

This is a question of delivery. 

What memorable moments can your audience recall? What worked and did not work will quickly become apparent by what people found most engaging and by what they struggle to recall. Sometimes the topics or approaches we think are most valuable, are not always the most engaging for the audience. This can help guide how much time we allocate to certain topics in future delivery. 

3.) What will you do differently?

This is a question of practicality.

What’s the take home? What is your next step form here? As people leave your meeting or presentation, what will they do differently to when they walked in? To leave people inspired is great, to leave people changed is far better. When preparing to speak, a leader should think ‘what do I want people to do after hearing this’. If the audience members answer to this differs to your desired outcomes, then you’ve just found a great opportunity to learn and grow.

Try asking these questions next time you speak and reflect on areas where you can become more effective. I’d love to hear how it goes.

Would you like to talk more about coaching for you or someone you know, feel free to get in touch and let’s continue the conversation.