3 Hidden Lessons From Toastmasters Critiques

Posted on October 16, 2013

There is really nothing more intimidating than knowing you’re being judged by a room full of people. Not just being judged, but every single sound you make; every bead of sweat; every shuffle of your feet; awkwardness of your hands- they’re even studying your eyes to see where you’re looking! For those of you not in Toastmasters, you receive feedback from every person in the room after you give a speech. Although this can be nerve-racking, it helps you grow in so many ways. Critiques are especially intimidating after the first few speeches that you give. But we always remind each other in my Toastmasters group, that critiques are the only way to improve. All of the feedback by other members is given because they want to help you achieve your goals.

Here are 3 Hidden Lessons you’re learning each time you get critiqued at Toastmasters

  1. You’re learning how to give constructive feedback. Dale Carnegie’s classic advice in How to Win Friends and Influence People says to sandwich the negative feedback in between two positive observations. For example: Tina, the expression in your voice was excellent, however there were a few times it was difficult to hear you from the back of the room. Overall, excellent speech.
  2. You’re learning how to accept feedback. Most of us don’t receive formal feedback on our work very often. A lot of people get annual reviews at work, but to get specific, helpful observations from multiple people on a regular basis really is a blessing. The more often you hear honest opinions of what others think of you, the easier it becomes to weed out what’s helpful, and disregard what’s not- without feeling hurt or angry. I once read you need to do the same thing with feedback as you do with corn on the cob- shuck what’s not edible.
  3. Not only are you learning how to receive feedback more graciously, but you’re learning how others respond to your feedback. This is why Toastmasters clubs vote on the best critique, because it helps you understand how people respond to your feedback. Are you coming across as too harsh? Are you too nice and need to give more ideas of things to improve?

Critiques are my favorite part of Toastmasters because I know it’s what’s helping me grow the fastest, as a person, and speaker. Anything else that you learn from Toastmasters critiques?

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