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How to give great public speaking feedback

Woman speaking

If a friend or colleague is giving a speech they may want your feedback.  But what’s the best way to help?

Get them to give the speech as they would for real

Ask them to stand up and use whatever notes they plan to have with them on the day. If they are going be on stage or at the front of a big room, sit a little further away from them.

By recreating the conditions of the actual speech, you’ll be helping them prepare and you’ll be able to give more accurate feedback.

Start with the positives

Public speaking can be a scary thing, even if it’s just a friend watching.

Boost their confidence straight away by telling them one or two things you really liked about their speech and/or their delivery.

Perhaps they were loud and clear, they told a really engaging story or made a particularly good joke.

Suggest improvements

After you’ve told them what’s working, suggest tweaks, adjustments or things for them to work on.

Note that these are suggestions, not ‘criticisms’ or ‘negatives’.

‘You could try to make more eye contact with the audience’ is far better feedback than ‘You were staring into space …’

Give them something to aim for

If you really want to motivate them describe to them the kind of speaker you can see them becoming in the future.

Perhaps you can see them becoming a statesman-like orator, a dry and witty comic speaker or a motivational business guru.

This will encourage them to take on board your suggestions and keep working on their speaking.

And of course, practice makes perfect!

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