In yesterday’s post I was kind-of dismissive of feedback, in so far as not letting it ruin your performance on the day. Once the sessions is over, that is the time to reflect on your performance and start looking for feedback. Feedback and advice from others is the best way to decide what you need to work on to improve.
Many conferences ask their attendees to fill in speaker evaluations and make the results available to speakers. The actual marks don’t always tell you too much, but the written comments can be very interesting. They tend to focus on extremes, people who either love or hate you. Even so, it’s worth checking this stuff out to see if there is something obvious you need to work on.
The questions you are asked in your session can tell you a lot about how your session went. Often, they will highlight areas you need to revise in the presentation itself, so you can pre-empt those questions next time.
If your sessions have been recorded, watch the recordings and be your own critic. I hate seeing myself on video, but it is a very good way to spot issues!
By far, the most useful feedback for me over the years has been the feedback and advice from other speakers. I mentioned in a previous post, I started asking for advice before I even stepped up on stage. During my first full-blown conference presentations, for AUSOUG in Australia, I got great feedback and advice from Chris Muir and Connor McDonald, which really helped me development my style. Since then I’ve been keen to pick up as much advice from others as possible. I still feel very much like a newbie at all this, so getting to speak to people who have been in the game for years is very valuable. Listening to their “war stories” is a great way to stop you falling into the same traps they did.
Feedback and advice is the quickest way for you to grow as a presenter. Don’t take it personally. Learn by your mistakes and the mistakes of others and aim to continually improve.