CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – AUGUST 26, 2021
MYTHS ABOUT BEING A GOOD PUBLIC SPEAKER (PT.3)
Myth #3: Constructive Criticism (Critiques) is the Best Way to Improve
Ever since that first oral report or book report that we each gave in high school, we’ve been told that constructive criticism or critiquing our speeches will improve the way the we speak in front of groups. It was reinforced in speech class, communications class, or whatever your High School or University called it. It was reinforced again when we went to that Toastmasters group and the grammarian and another speaker-in-training gave us constructive feedback.
However, this particular technique has never, ever worked. Here’s why. The only way to get constructive criticism is to first have a failure — and if you don’t have a failure, then the job of the critic is to find something wrong with what you did. Anytime we do something for the first time and have a failure, we get more nervous the next time that we attempt it (if we have the courage to do so). A good coach won’t use this technique much. Instead, the coach will show the person how to succeed in public speaking, and then praise the presenter as he/she moves toward that goal. (For more details on this, access Podcast #29, How to Scare the Gooey Out of a New Presenter.)
Being a Critic Versus Being a Coach
My wife likes to watch cooking shows. Personally, I’m not a big fan, but I often experience in passing as I’m doing something else around the house. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that, on these shows, there will often be three judges. If the dish that they are judging is good, two of the judges will give a compliment to the chef. However, no matter how good two of the judges think that the dish is, at least one of the judges will criticize the dish. (I guess that makes for great TV.) My point is that no matter how well something is done, if you ask someone to be a critic, he or she will find something wrong. The old adage is, “Nobody’s perfect.” Since we know this, we can always find something to criticize. And every time that we do, we will be harming the confidence of that person.
I’d much rather see Gordon Ramsey watching the participant as he/she cooks. When he sees the person about to make a mistake, go over and offer a piece of advice that will keep the person from failing in the first place. That little bit of proactive coaching will be see by others (and the people in the audience) in a way to where if they are faced with a similar situation, the people watching and listening will now know how to handle it. That is the difference between being a coach and being a critic. Coaches help people succeed, while critics wait for the person to fail so that they can critique the person.