Giving feedback: Be specific

They say when thanking someone for something, one should be as specific as possible. Anything less may come across as an empty gesture.

The same thing can be said for giving evaluations in a Toastmasters meeting or giving feedback in general, especially if you are viewing it as a way of saying ‘Thank you’. Another reason to be specific is because it demonstrates to the person that was the speaker that you were listening, the highest compliment to any speaker.

An easiest way to be specific is to quote a specific passage from the speech and proof of something they did well or something that can be improved upon.

A second way is make sure you personalize the feedback. In Toastmaster, each speech has several skills the speaker should be hoping to practice. If you talk with the speaker before the speech, it’s a good opportunity to find out how the speaker is attempting to solve the challenge, and mentioning it when you give your evaluation and comment on the relative success of the effort

Another way to be specific is to give an example of what you are talking about, for example, if you are giving positive feedback on someone’s vocal variety, illustrating this fact with your own voice is a wonderful way of being specific. On the flip side, this also works with giving someone constructive criticism, giving a specific suggestion how something might have been done can open up a world possibilities.

There are many ways to be specific when giving feedback, but the most important thing is giving tailored feedback that is relevant to the speaker while also giving tips that everyone can learn from. It’s a balancing act, but with practice can be done well.