You Don’t Like It: Learn from It. Transform Criticism into Success

Criticism, or as you may prefer to call it, “constructive feedback,” is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to refine their presentation skills. While the sting of criticism can be unsettling, embracing it as a tool for growth is a hallmark of a seasoned professional.

The Audience as Critics

In my extensive career as a keynote speaker and executive speech coach, I’ve faced critics every week—my audiences. They don’t just rate me with their applause or silence; they often fill out evaluations that meeting planners scrutinize. My aim? To make those meeting planners look like rockstars by delivering an impeccable performance.

The Value of Feedback

In all areas of our lives, feedback is a gift. Many professionals meticulously review evaluations and listen to comments, even when they seem misguided. Professional peers who have knowledge and good intentions can be valuable supporters and not critics. Why? Because valuable and informed feedback is the crucible in which excellence is forged.

Eight Strategies to Turn Criticism into Growth

Here are eight actionable techniques to transform criticism into a catalyst for success:

Diffuse Attacks: In every career and situation, turn confrontations into conversations. Instead of getting defensive, ask for specifics. This transforms your critic into an ally.

Apply the Olympic Scoring Rule: Bill Gove, the first president of the National Speakers Association, advised to focus on the middle 80% of your audience feedback. Disregard the extreme highs and lows.

Consider the Source: Evaluate the expertise of those giving feedback. Are they qualified to provide valuable feedback? Use discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Separate Intent from Content: Don’t take criticism personally. Understand that people have different communication styles and may not be adept at delivering feedback in a palatable manner. This is especially important if you work with or report to them.

Actively Seek Helpful Feedback: Whether it’s from your manager or your team, ask for feedback. Be proactive in seeking out areas for improvement and let them know you are eager to become a great contributor.

Be Specific: Ask open-ended questions to get detailed feedback. Then, summarize what you’ve heard to ensure you’ve understood correctly.

Feedback Loop: Paraphrasing the criticism you’ve received not only clarifies any misunderstandings and shows that you are actively listening.

Protect Your Boundaries: Teach people how to treat you. If the timing or manner of the feedback isn’t helpful, communicate your preferences clearly.

Concluding Thoughts

Not everyone will adore you, and that’s perfectly fine. What matters is your ability to turn criticism into actionable insights that propel you toward excellence. Remember, when your message needs to be unforgettable and your presentation impactful, I’m here to help.

The next time you receive feedback, consider it a stepping stone on your path to success.

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“As a speech coach, Patricia Fripp is a miracle worker.” Larraine Segil, Chairman and CEO, Exceptional Women Awardees Foundation

“Fripp, you truly outdid yourself. Your authority and expertise shone through, making you an absolute force to be reckoned with. Your insights were not just amazing, they also left a lasting impact. I have to commend your talent for weaving the perfect captivating story into each point. It’s like you have this magical ability to hold everyone’s attention effortlessly. The way you turned learning into an enjoyable and enlightening experience is a remarkable gift. Keep rocking those presentations and spreading your invaluable wisdom.” Mark Stiving, Ph.D., Chief Pricing Educator at Impact Pricing LLC