Congratulations, you’ve made it through your speech (and my week of rambling posts!). Bet you are glad that’s over, right?

Of course you’re glad, it is only natural for anyone doing public speaking to be relieved when they come out the other side of a presentation relatively unscathed. Don’t rest easy for too long though as it’s bound to crop up again when you least expect it, and there is something you can do right now which will make things much easier next time around. Get some feedback!

As much as it can bruise our egos getting some feedback is of vital importance to make us better speakers in the future. The good news is your ego can also get some massaging which will make you feel more comfortable next time.

You should be asking questions like:

  • Did you feel engaged?
  • Was it too long?
  • Did I speak too fast?
  • Did I keep the energy level high enough?
  • What could I do better next time?

Many moons ago before I joined Marton House part of my workload came from being an audio/visual technician at conferences. From party political conferences to medical events it was my job to make sure they all ran smoothly, which usually meant me sitting at the back of the room making sure things like the slide tray advanced properly. Most of the time after all the setting up was done it was a mind-numbingly boring and repetitive job but there was the occasional moment of interest.

One moment that sticks in my mind was at a medical conference around the mid-afternoon time when people are a little snoozy after lunch. I rarely paid attention to what was being said on stage as it really made no sense to me but to alleviate the boredom I would often people watch.

After the session was over the speaker came up to me to get his slides back and asked me what I thought of the session, to which I politely replied I was too busy to pay any real attention to it. “How about the audience, did you get any vibes?”, he continued. I thought about this for a moment and realised that there had been a noticeable shift between the previous session and his. When he first came out on the stage the audience were practically asleep but his energy and drive must have awoken them from their slumber and gradually people started to sit up in their seats. People left momentarily and came back with more people until there was a definite buzz in the audience.

So I told him this good news, and he was really pleased with the result. “Anything bad?”, he asked. “Yes”, I replied “They all started to drift off after 20 minutes, and after the first hour you’d lost most of them!”

The learning from this story for him was that everybody only has a limited supply of energy and attention. Next time he vowed to keep it much, much shorter. Less pain for him, less pain for the audience.

Feedback can come from anywhere, even a 3rd party like a conference technician. The more we learn from our mistakes, the easier it will all become.