‘Happy Sheet’ (feedback) is often a misnomer for trainers and can be anything but. ‘Audience Reactions’ can strike fear and trepidation into the most seasoned presenter. Because let’s face it; we all love to be loved. Most trainers and presenters are like actors; we like to play to our audience but then laser-focus on the few bad reviews whilst forgetting all the people we did influence or those who gave us the rave feedback. Keep this type of behaviour up folks and you will either drive your loved ones bonkers and/or become well acquainted with the psychiatrist’s chair!
Yes, we do need to know whether we are hitting the spot, yet negative feedback can be terribly hard to swallow. For trainers, being evaluated every day of your working life can be very draining. For presenters, having worked up the courage to bare your soul in front of strangers, that fragile balloon of bravado can be all too easily punctured.
Here are some suggestions to help you cope:
- Look at the big picture: if the vast majority of the feedback is positive, follow the old adage ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’. Also, look for even-handedness; for instance, if some say ‘too much role play/audience interaction’ yet others say ‘not enough roleplay/audience interaction’ you probably have the balance just right.
- Be realistic: in training, maybe the disgruntled delegate‘s manager hasn’t persuaded them to change their behaviour despite years of working with them. In presenting, the adamant audience member may have held their entrenched views for decades. What makes you think you are so influential that you can change these folk in the scant period you have just spent in front of them?
- Accept what you can’t change: of course, it is dispiriting, especially for the external trainer to slave over the design and delivery of a well-planned workshop, only to read a comment such as ‘coffee was tepid’ or ‘not enough jammy dodgers’. Same goes for the presenter invited to speak in a venue that may not have been their choice. All this type of comment proves is that Maslow’s Hierarchy is alive and well (the concept that basic needs have to be met before loftier ambitions can be achieved) – but they don’t help us develop better content.
- Set the feedback aside until you are emotionally better able to cope with it and then look to see if there is anything practical you can do to improve that session for the future. However grumpily worded, there is often a useful nugget in negative comments. Bear in mind that a former colleague of mine is now a hugely successful motivational speaker after developing an idea sparked by a delegate.
So, a plea to future delegates – most trainers/presenters would greatly appreciate a less MasterChef and more Masterclass approach to evaluation, thanks awfully.
Your Reaction: If you want to feel more confident, competent and comfortable when speaking in public or you would like to set up a Train the Trainer workshop for your organisation, then contact us for additional information or to arrange a chat with one of the Stratus team
Postscript – When this blog is first published, I will have just come off stage after presenting to my largest audience to date. Hopefully, I can practice what I preach!