If a stand-up comedian wants feedback on his or her routine he/she can ask people in the audience, or he can ask another comedian.
The feedback will be quite different.
If a musician asks an audience member for feedback, or a fellow musician, again the feedback will be quite different.
And if a movie director ask a bunch of movie goers about how to make a movie better he or she will get totally different feedback than if the question goes to fellow movie directors.
The feedback from the peers will be deeper, more specific and on a different level. Expert talking to expert will generate expert feedback.
That is why I am so surprised why not more speakers ask other speakers for feedback.
I try to do it as often as I can.
Today I did it in Taipei, Taiwan where I was speaking at the he Asia Pacific Conference for the Association for Talent Development. A few days ago I found out that a speaker friend of mine, Coen Tan, was going to attend my speech and he wrote to on Facebook “I will get a front seat”. I thanked him but asked him to instead take a seat in the very BACK of the room. Because if you sit in the back of the room you can evaluate not only the speaker, but also the reactions of the audience.
I then asked Coen to observe my speech and take notes.
After the speech we sat down in a café and Coen gave his perspective on my content, my delivery and my message.
He had some very good ideas around how I could rephrase a few of my stories for more impact. Ideas that I definitely will implement.
Hearing his comments it was so clear how different feedback from a fellow speaker is from feedback from “normal” audience members.
It is my experience that non-speaker-feedback tends to be very positive (“Oh, it was amazing!) or focused on something negative: “You said X, and did not like that” or “You do Y and it annoyed me.”.
It is my experience that speaker feedback is more focused on small improvements and suggestions on how to tweak and change the speech, the stories or the delivery to make it even better.
A non-speaker comes from the perspective: “I as an audience like/did not like X.”
A fellow speaker comes from the perspective: “If this was my speech I would do X.”
That makes speaker feedback more constructive.
Lesson: So the next time you get a chance to have a fellow speaker in the audience, grab him or her and ask them to help you make your speech better.
Feed on feedback.