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Give Effective Feedback

Original speech date: May 29, 2017

Project: Successful Club Series #3 (Evaluate to Motivate)

Last year, I got to interview with my dream company named "Matt." Using my Toastmasters skills, I passed the interview and four more that came afterwards. Finally, Matt said, "Ok, come on over. Pass the next one and you're hired." After grilling me every which way known to man for hours, Matt decided to hire someone else. I was angry—not because Matt hired someone else, but because Matt couldn't give me feedback on how I did. After 5 phone calls and 1 face-to-face meeting, Matt couldn't even suggest for what other positions I'd make a good candidate. I was lost.

The moral of my story is this: Feedback is crucial. We love to know how we are doing—as a candidate, an employee, a speaker, leader, significant other, and even friend—so that we can improve ourselves as that person. This means 2 things. We need to know how to listen to others' feedback, and more importantly, we need to know how to give others feedback.


In the first part of the workshop, we discussed three things:

(1) how feedback helps us grow

(2) how to organize our feedback

(3) what steps to take when giving feedback

Here, I will abridge (2) and (3), then suggest what you can do until the second part on July 10.


Organization means your feedback has structure and is concise. Your feedback is a speech. Therefore, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, with smooth transitions in-between.

In the beginning of your feedback, you want to grab your receiver's attention. Praise the receiver for their effort and let them know—verbally and non-verbally—that you want to help them grow.

In the middle, explain what the receiver did and did not do well. I recommend that you focus on 2 things that they did well, and support your ideas with concrete examples. Then, move on to 1 area in which they can do better, and provide a specific plan for how they can improve in that area.

In the end, summarize the receiver's strengths and weakness. To make a warm and lasting impression, congratulate their effort once more, encourage them to continue to improve themselves, and show them that you support them.

Three Steps

When you give feedback, your receiver may react negatively. By following these steps, you can minimize the friction that can result from your feedback.

First, I want you to reach out to your receiver. Let them know that you understand their goals and want to help them grow. Sometimes, this first step happens implicitly; for example, in Toastmasters, you are expected to receive and give feedback. Nonetheless, make it explicit and decide together on when you will give them feedback and how.

Next, observe your receiver over a period of time. Write down what they did and did not do well, along with concrete examples.

Finally, give them feedback. Use organization and persuasion to state the areas in which your receiver excelled and the area in which they can improve. Make sure to congratulate their effort and offer them a chance to ask you for clarification and explain their actions.

What's Next

On July 10, you will develop two more skills: observation and persuasion. You will also get to try different types of feedback. In the meantime, I'd like you to try 3 things:

One, find a person in your life with whom you can practice giving feedback; for example, a speaker in a Toastmasters meeting. When you give feedback, apply the organization skill and three steps described above.

Two, learn how to give feedback from people in our club. When someone gives feedback, carefully watch what they say and do and how their speaker reacts.

Finally, three, I encourage you to visit other Toastmasters clubs and learn from their members. The more you bring yourself to ideas and skills that are outside of your comfort zone, the better you can become in giving effective feedback.


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