“She needs help.” How to give feedback … appropriately.

77005633Have you ever sat through a business presentation made by a woman and wondered

What was she thinking? That outfit is completely wrong for this meeting!

*yawn* … What time is it?

Oh, she’s still talking and I have no idea what she just said.

After the presentation, have you clapped politely, maybe even smiled reassuringly, possibly thanked her later?

Did you have some insights into what she could have or should have done differently? Did you share those “Ah-ha’s” with her?

As speakers, especially women, we rarely receive the feedback we really need to grow. Maybe people are afraid to hurt our feelings. Maybe they are glad it was you, not them, in the hot seat and just appreciate your efforts.

Woman speakers are not fragile. We don’t need praise and admiration, unless it’s absolutely honest. We really need to hear:

  • What worked, specifically?
  • What missed the mark?
  • What one thing would make this presentation even better?

Women, who seek to influence and be the best speakers they can be, are thirsty for this kind of feedback. My challenge to you, as a fellow woman on a quest, is not to keep your big “Ah-ha’s” to yourself. The next woman you see speak in a boardroom, a networking event or anywhere you are an audience, deserves solid, constructive feedback from your perspective.

  1. Come along-side the presenter and let her know specific things that really worked for you.
  2. Tell her you are working on your own ability to “speak to influence”. Ask her, as a fellow woman speaker, if she’s looking for feedback on any disconnects or challenges and an idea to make the presentation even better than it already is?
  3. “YES! Absolutely!” she says. Now is not the time to offer that feedback, but do take her card, giver her yours and FOLLOW UP with a quick email inviting a conversation.
  4. In the conversation, reiterate what she really did well and your take-aways. Then, for every bit of constructive criticism, give her an example of what might make that part better.
  5. Tell her one thing you would add or change that would make the presentation even better.
  6. Finally, tell her the greatest “Ah-ha” moment you had during her presentation and the impact that has had on the way you think, feel or act. Leave the conversation on a high note and she will be more likely to appreciate the source of the feedback.

You’re a busy person. Another woman’s success or failure is not your problem. Why bother? Consider this:

  • How would you feel toward someone who took the time to give you valuable feedback no one else ever offers?
  • If a woman gave you solid, thoughtful, helpful feedback and you found out she was working on her speaking career, would you feel more compelled to help her as well?
  • If you met that same woman at a future event, would you be likely to greet her warmly and introduce her well to others?

Taking a little time out of your busy life to help someone on a similar path as you, will provide rewards you can’t even imagine.

Leave comments below! Have you given feedback, either using the above method, or in a less involved, more spur of the moment way? What happened? What would you do differently?