Today is the last Q & A for this round, but please remember I always love getting your questions. Although time constraints keep me from answering questions individually by email, I’m always happy to answer them for the whole speaker girl community on the blog. You can leave your question in the comments or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week I’ll start a series on speaker fees which many people have asked about. Stay tuned! Here’s this week’s question:
“How do you juggle feedback? The 1st time I spoke, several people said different parts of my talk were meaningful, and someone asked me to speak at their next event. The 2nd time I spoke, it was the same thing. I spoke with different women that had specific comments, and the area MOPS leader was there. She gave me her card asked me to please be sure I registered with them so that other groups could find me. The 3rd time someone said I was “fun” and that’s about the only comment. I want to improve without getting caught up in pleasing/idolizing man.” ~Julie
Wow. Receiving feedback is a hard topic. I’ve received the whole spectrum of responses after an event–everything from lavish praise, to tears, to crickets. (I never did figure out the dead silence after that one event, but it was horrifying! The event coordinator wrote me a nice note, but I think I stepped over some theological line or something.)
Every church and group has their own subculture, so sometimes the feedback is simply consistent with that culture. For example, Suzie Eller and I just did an event together and discussed this very topic. Both of us have spoken before in very stoic, non-responsive cultures where we felt like a flop but learned afterward that we had made an impact. For a girl from the exceptionally responsive Bible Belt culture, that’s tough.
Here’s the response I want. I want women to approach me and tell me how my message spoke specifically into their hearts and lives. Although it’s nice to hear, “You’re a great speaker,” it’s not the response I’m looking for. I want to know I’ve crafted a message in such a way that it’s life-changing. Transformation is what fuels me, and it’s what I think makes a great speaker.
Criticism is a whole other thing. Two of my friends on the Proverbs speaker team who I consider outstanding speakers have told me of instances where the event planner actually criticized the message and/or response. I think we all need to be prepared to respond humbly to criticism while not letting it crush us. In the case of criticism, it’s important to be able to answer “yes” to these questions:
- Did I seek God diligently about this event and my message?
- Did I take the time before the event to be fully prepared?
- Did I get the information I needed from the event planner to know my audience?
If the answer to all of these is “yes”, then I think we can rest with a clear conscience. Sometimes there are other issues that don’t have anything to do with us or issues outside of our knowledge with the group. All we can do is be faithful to pray and prepare.
Here’s another link to a devotion I wrote about feedback called “The Opinion Blender”.
Any thoughts from you in our community about handling and growing from feedback?