Asking for Critiques from Friends/Coworkers

"Just about everything that you have ever learned about public speaking is wrong." -- Doug Staneart

Don't Ask Coworkers to Critique YouThe first time that I ever said this to a public speaking class, I was really nervous about how the group was going to react. I was afraid that they were going to see me as arrogant. "Oh, so you are the expert, and everyone else is wrong?" Well... as a matter of fact... yeah. By the way, I wouldn't say that "everyone" or "everything" is wrong. But it is pretty high. Most people are taught to do many of the things on this list. They are taught to write their presentations word-for-word and memorize them. They are taught that a slideshow is a speech, not a visual aid. They are taught to slow down their delivery. They are taught to practice over and over... alone. They are taught to picture their audience naked. None of these things actually work.

So, when we ask well-meaning friends, coworkers, or significant others for feedback, they will often give us advice that also doesn't work. In fact, if you ask two people for advice, you might actually get contradictory advice from each.

Every speaker has strengths in communication and every speaker has weaknesses. Your strengths and your coworker's strengths may be really different. Your weaknesses may also be very different. So what works for your friend will often not actually work for you. An example of this is, let's say that your coworker is a high-energy, enthusiastic presenter, but you are more low-key and detailed. If you ask your coworker for advice, he will tell you to cut out a lot of your detailed content and increase your energy. If you did this, you will be actually eliminating the strength that you have and replacing it with your biggest weakness. You will feel really, really uncomfortable.

One of the reasons that the Fearless Presentations ® class works so well is that our instructors help each presenter maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Not maximize your weaknesses and minimize your strengths.

So, take advice from others with a grain of salt.