Care and Feeding of Presenters: How to Give Supportive Feedback to Speakers

You, as employer, supervisor or coach want your presenters to be open and transparent, because you know that clients respond to authenticity more than to slick and canned presentations.

Supporting presenters to be genuine is hard work!  You can’t afford the luxury of telling them what is wrong with their performance.  Presenters are vulnerable, even if they don’t look like it. You have to take on the role of nurturing parent rather than critic.

You have to give up some things in order to get authentic presenters:

  1. Expecting them to be mechanically perfect.
  2. Criticism and negative feedback.
  3. The idea that effectiveness has to do with the presenter’s performance.

Concentrate your attention on seeing what they do well and right.  Support their natural abilities and personal qualities.  Acknowledge what they do well and who they are as human beings.  Flood them with positive feedback so they can relax into being who they are in front of others.

Then, in order to get what you want from them, ask them for what you want.  Tell them what to do to make it better rather than telling them what is wrong. Become the coach who say “Here is what you can do to make it better” AFTER telling them what they are doing well.

I use a “yes, and” approach to feedback.  While watching them practice, I look for what is working and what needs to be better.  Then I ask them to do something positive.  For example, I say “Great story!  Amazing story!  Loads of emotion!  Next time, try making more one to one connection.”  I don’t say “You aren’t making good connection!”  Believe me this is challenging!  But it helps retain the presenter’s confidence.