Presentation Feedback: Is it all valid?

Presentation Feedback: Is it all valid?

After delivering my “Secrets of Success” presentation at a conference last week I received some unusual feedback. The woman told me that she was offended by me. That is the first time I have heard that feedback so naturally I asked her, “What was it that I did or said that offended you?”

She first remarked that she was surprised at how calmly I took that criticism. However she was unable to pinpoint anything specific about my actions or words.

Her comment was in stark contrast to the comments from several others. They commented on my stories, style and relevance. When people give me a vague compliment I ask them to be specific because I want to know what is working.

Despite the overwhelming positive feedback that one negative comment nagged at me for a few days. I reviewed my presentation to search for what I might have done.

Finally I let it go and decided to ignore the comment. Sometimes you can’t please everybody and it’s not your fault.

I gave it one last mental review before I flushed the comment. My presentation, Secrets of Success, was aimed at business owners – especially entrepreneurs. The audience was ninety percent entrepreneurs. The ones who commented favorably on my presentation were entrepreneurs. The one negative comment came from a person who was a software trainer – an employee – not an entrepreneur.

So if that one person was offended but could not indentify the cause then it didn’t matter because she was not my target audience.

I mentioned this comment to two of my friends who are professional speakers. Both responded, “Don’t worry about it.”

Three lessons relearned:

Not all presentation feedback is valid.

Some audience members are more important than others.

Some one will always dislike you or your presentation.

George TorokPresentation Skills Training
Presentation Coaching
Motivational Business Speaker

Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your story.

Feedback can be uncomfortable and can create intense internal conflict when our manufactured self image confronts the reality of how we are perceived by others. Nonetheless, feedback is the primary tool we use to help bring more awareness to our dialogue, which is why taking it seriously is important.

I like how you didn't try to explain away the feedback but probed for more clarification. After there was none to give, you still thought it over carefully before 'flushing it' as you said.