speaking feedback

Is feedback empowering or undermining your speaking performance?

AlexiaCoaching, Public Speaking

For far too many years, I’m ashamed to admit, I was absolutely positively lousy when it came to giving myself feedback as a speaker.

I would think about (or if there was video, review) one of my performances and decide:

Lex, you totally crushed it!


Lex, you suckedy suck sucked. What’s wrong with you, sista?

Both of these responses, unfortunately, held me back from consistently giving my strongest speaking performances. For whether they were positive or negative, this kind of thinking ultimately left me feeling like I was good. Or I was bad. And whichever the answer was, I had no means for improving (or repeating what I did right).

If we want to consistently show up as heart-centered, high impact speakers, we want to focus on the behaviors that allow us to perform at our best.

  • Telling evocative stories
  • Asking bold questions that stir the soul
  • Advancing a clear “idea worth spreading”
  • Filling a stage or presentation space with our passion and presence
  • Presenting clear and inviting calls to action
  • Making people feel really yummy about who they are—and are in the process of becoming

If you have cultivated a sense of worthiness that is not inextricably linked to how you perform (or how well you think you perform), you may be able to curate a list of a few key high performing speaker behaviors you are working on, and then ask, and accurately answer:

Where did I shine?

Where do I have room for growth?

However, if you are your own worst critic, you may need a coach, mentor or cheerleader to do this for you. The key, for whomever is giving you feedback, is to be clear about what you want feedback on.

I recommend you prioritize a few (as in three) behaviors you are seeking to master in your speaking, master them, and then move onto new ones. Making a list of everything your favorite speaker does to wow an audience and endeavoring to do what likely took him or her years if not decades to perfect is silly (if not insanity) making.

Also, not everyone has earned the right to give you feedback. So, if you don’t want feedback from your BFF, your partner, or your plumber—then don’t ask him/her for it.

And when you do want feedback, be clear on what you want feedback on (again, no more than three key areas), and ask for the person or people giving it to wait at least a few days after you’ve spoken to provide recommendations. Ask them to start with where you shined (as it relates to your key areas) and where you have room for growth.

Sometimes, you won’t slay it as a speaker. You’ll suck.

As I walked into the event space where I hosted my Spotlight Speakers Collective mastermind last week, I was reminded of a speaking gig several years back where I sucked. Big time. As in I scored 2s and 3s… out of a possible 10!

In a recent Facebook Live, I shared how to recover gracefully when you eff up as a speaker. As I share in the video, it’s all about looking for the “cosmic wink” rather than the “constraint.”

Actually, may that be my goal, our goal, in all of life! How can we find the cosmic wink in any and all situations?