A Better Question To Ask (After You Speak)

A lot of people talk about the vulnerability you feel in the few moments before you have to stand up and speak. We don’t talk enough about the few moments after.

You’ve just spent twenty-five minutes sharing the final product of all your hard work and labour to an audience of people whose facial expressions gave you absolutely nothing to determine if you hit it out of the park or ruined your career. 

It’s a raw moment for you.

The words you receive in the few moments after you speak seem to hold an extra emotional weight to them.

For years I fell into the habit of walking off stage and heading straight to a trusted friend to ask the question ‘how did I do?’. It’s a dangerous habit to form. 

There’s a couple of problems with this question in that moment. Firstly, people will rarely give you the type of praise that outweighs the vulnerability you feel. Most people respond to this question with ‘great job’ or ‘I loved it’ that, while it might be flattering, isn’t really helpful. The alternative is that they tell you where you missed the mark. Comments like this are like salt in the wound when you’re already feeling unsure. 

If you want honest and thoughtful feedback, ask someone before you speak to make notes and then organise a time in a few days to talk it through when their constructive feedback doesn’t feel like a brick in the face.  

A better question to ask after you speak is ‘how did this help?’

I have learned that the question ‘how did I do?’ will always cause me to analyse my speaking performance. ‘How did this help?’ is a question that causes me to reflect on my speaking purpose, and in my opinion, that’s a much better place to start.