Friday, May 20 2022

If you want to improve your public speaking skills, all you have to do is ask. Developing a skill requires feedback, but many people are hesitant to ask for help.

I was thinking about feedback recently when I went to the golf course to fix a problem reported by my instructor. Meanwhile, the guy next to me was swinging wildly, hitting balls everywhere but where he was aiming. He made the same mistakes over and over again, getting vocally angry with every swing.

The frustrated golfer is unlikely to have taken a lesson, as no teacher would have told him to practice so quickly. In fact, only about 14% of recreational golfers take lessons. For some people, the ego gets in the way. Nobody likes being told they have to fix something. The result is that they never reach their full potential.

When it comes to improving their skills, champion athletes, successful entrepreneurs, and great business leaders have a very different outlook than the average person.

They constantly ask the following question:

This simple question can lead to dramatic improvements in your public speaking skills.

Actively solicit feedback

I have made two important observations in my career as a communication coach. First, the best public speakers solicit feedback. Second, most people are reluctant to give their opinion until asked. This means that if you want to take your public speaking skills to the next level, ask people for their opinion.

For example, I’ve written ten books and given keynote speeches to audiences around the world. And so people are surprised when I ask them for their opinion on a presentation or a piece of writing. They assume I don’t want comments, but the opposite is true. I need feedback because, as a top CEO in his 60s recently told me, “No matter how good we think we are, we can all improve, especially when it comes to to write and speak.”

Let’s say you’re preparing for an important presentation. Most people aren’t going to offer unsolicited feedback on your speaking style. I can’t say I blame them. You don’t want to be that boring person who picks up on other people’s flaws, especially without being asked.

That’s why you can’t wait for people to give you their opinion. Instead, you should actively solicit their opinion.

Steve Jobs repetition strategy

Asking for feedback is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of trust.

Most people assume that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs didn’t care what other people thought. They are wrong. I wrote the first book on how Jobs created his now famous product launches. Jobs practiced his presentations like a theatrical performance. He jumped on stage, raised his voice and gestured as if talking to thousands of people, even though a few people were sitting in the auditorium.

Jobs then left the stage, lowered his voice and asked the participants what they thought. He didn’t want to hear what he was doing well. He wanted to know what he could do better: did the message need to be clarified? Did the slides need to be simplified? Should the demo be shorter?

I’ve been in countless coaching sessions with celebrity CEOs and entrepreneurs working on critical pitches. They rarely ask, “How did I do it?” This question elicits only positive remarks because no one wants to be seen as critical of the boss.

Instead, successful leaders ask, “How can I do better?” »

You can’t develop a skill if you don’t know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. So have the courage to ask.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


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