I recently received the evaluations from a presentation I did earlier this year. It was just the second time I had done that presentation and the first time I had done that version of the presentation, which I had tailored for that audience.
While the majority of the people rated all aspects the the presentation very high there were a couple of stunningly low scores. One person gave me a 1 out of 6 in one of the areas they were asked to rate and I received four 2’s in another area. I am not proud of those scores. In fact, I am extremely embarrassed by them. It would be easy to write those off as small, even insignificant numbers out of a group that was close to 90 people. Doing so however, completely defeats the purpose of the evaluations and discounts the courage of those people who let me know that I let them down.
I take my responsibility as a speaker and trainer very seriously and those numbers were a kick in the guts for me. My reaction could have been to complain about those people, blame them for not getting more out of the session, defend my presentation, justify why I thought I did a great job and make excuses about why they just don’t appreciate great training. That actually used to be my reaction to poor evaluations.
I have learned over time however, to catch my breath, step back, reframe the experience and accept the scores as a kick in the ass. For those people, on that day, I missed the mark and did not live up to their expectations. It is not them that is the issue, it is me. When I looked at these evaluations from this perspective I found value in their harsh, but honest feedback.
The next time I deliver this presentation it will be better, I will be better and I will be able to better serve the entire audience.
As a learner in any presentation you owe it to the presenter to be honest with your feedback. If they missed the mark for you that day, as I did, it is your responsibility to let them know. And not just with a low score. If you are going to score an area of the presentation low then provide an explanation so I as the presenter know what I need to change or improve to deliver the message more effectively the next time. A score of 1 or a 2 without an explanation is of limited help to me in improving.
As a trainer please take a breathe when you get low scores on evaluations and take a step back if your initial response is negative. After stepping back ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to enhance the learning experience for that person or those people?” If your initial answer is, “Nothing!”, then take another breathe and ask, “If there was something I could have done differently what would it be?” Keep asking until you have at least two ideas on how you can improve that presentation for the next audience and then take the necessary steps to incorporate those changes.
We all need a kick in the guts, and the ass, from time to time to inspire us to improve.
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