Last fall I had the pleasure of presenting a breakout session at Content Marketing World in Cleveland. It was fun, exciting, and, as always, a challenge to be sure I was delivering “the goods.” A core tenet of the conference is to share content that’s real and relevant – something attendees can take away and put into practice.
So, I put all my efforts into crafting what I hoped would be a session that resonated with the attendees and their current issues. In structuring the presentation into actionable areas, my goal was to share a holistic perspective of common marketing issues and to offer solutions that attendees would find useful.
Response following the session was great – the overall rating was good, and several people followed up with me to dig into their own experiences.
But the comments that arose via evaluation feedback were the most valuable to me. Two people thought I should have done more in terms of unearthing details and delving into more tactical solutions. It’s a fair statement, and while I could have drilled in on this area, I balanced my approach with the time available. Conversely, another comment stated that the info was very practical, “real world,” and specific to the problems faced by marketeers.
Using feedback to tailor the message
The combination of positive and constructive feedback reminded me that how people interpret input can vary greatly, depending on expectations and a person’s mental filter. We all come to the table with varying points of view based on our own experiences. So, when we build a presentation, it’s a question of being sure we’ve considered the ways in which people may see things and try to create a set of ideas that will resonate with our audience at any level – from novice to experienced.
This is where the value of feedback hits home. Without hearing from attendees, one might not know where to improve or expand on a topic to be sure it’s well-stated, well-researched, and substantial.
Feedback is enormously helpful to gain perspective, challenge your thinking, and calibrate how you package the knowledge or experience you’re sharing. Sometimes it works well; other times you need to revisit the presentation and determine whether it really speaks to your audience.
The final comment offered on my evaluation was the most interesting. “She is kind and seems to speak from the heart.” So, the other aspect of feedback is that it can be human and real, motivating and energizing to the one receiving it. This tells me something about how I came across as a person and in my delivery, and I appreciated the honesty.
Overall, any feedback provided is a gift, whether we like what we’re hearing, or not. And we should use that gift wisely to sharpen our communications skills.
It never hurts to ask … but it always hurts not to!