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Honest Feedback for Public Speakers: How to Get It and Give It


Speakers crave useful critiques of their talks yet most people shy away from offering helpful feedback. But good speakers are always looking to fine-tune their craft.

A few minutes into the speech, you notice it. Maybe it's a phrase the speaker keeps repeating, or a podium death-grip making the microphone wobble. Maybe it's a swiveling chair that never stops moving, or the constant twirling of a lock of hair.

These "speaker ticks" are unfortunately the best-kept secrets in public speaking—a secret only the hapless presenter is unaware of. Everybody in the audience probably noticed the distracting tick. But honest feedback is the most endangered species on the speaker frontier.

"Even if you did a terrible job, the host or the moderator won't tell you it was bad. It's rare for them to feel it's their role to give that insight," says Scott Berkun, author of Confessions of a Public Speaker, a behind-the scenes look at his own successful speaking career. "It's especially difficult for executives to get good feedback. Nobody wants to tell them, 'Hey, Joe, you didn't do this or that so well.'"

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By: Maryfran Johnson

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