I am the only “music appreciator”(ie. loves music but doesn’t have much talent) amongst a family of true musicians. I love to sing in the choir, but all the men around me here can both give a critique a beautiful performance.
There’s an upside and a downside. The upside is that they get excited about an EXCELLENT musical performance. The downside is that it’s hard to turn off your critique-er and just enjoyone that might be less than outstanding. I’m finding the same thing about speaking, but I’m trying to use my desire to learn as a way to put my critique-er to work for me.
I have a core belief that I can learn something from everyone, so I try to start there. But I get really jazzed about hearing a great message from behind a pulpit, through a computer screen or from a debate stage. As I hone my speaking skills and share with others things that I’ve learned, I’m more and more interested in what makes a great message. Critiquing messages is one way to learn to make my own messages better.
I’ve suggested free podcasts in the past as a way to listen to messages. Videos of messages allow us to incorporate the visual delivery into our critique, and there’s a wealth of those online too. TED is an organization that has speakers do short speeches on a variety of messages. (Jane Fonda’s recent message on aging well is one I really enjoyed.)
Rachel Olsen uses these short TED speeches as a vehicle of study for her communications students at UNC-Wilmington. The group watches, analyses and discusses the speeches in order to strengthen their own.
Here are some things to look for if you try this on your own:
- How does the speaker open? Did it catch your attention immediately?
- Is the content of the message relevant? cohesive? sequenced logically?
- How does the speaker use her voice? Is there volume variance? Is the pitch pleasant?
- How are notes used? Not used? Does it seem to affect the speaker’s connection with the audience?
- What is the speaker doing with her body? Is is distracting? Does it add meaning and emphasis?
- Is the end abrupt or a solid period on the message? (Rachel’s class noticed that with a great ending, the audience knows to burst into applause. Interesting. Difficult!)
Try critiquing some of these videos and make notes of how you want to improve your next message. Can you think of a message that you’ve loved? What made it great? I’d love to hear some of your important observations!
The questions above reflect just a few of the areas that Karen and I use as we listen to our clients’ messages for the Speaker Evaluation Service. We’d love to hear one of your messages! For $195, you will receive both written and oral feedback on one of your messages. I know it sounds a little scary, but both Karen and I are born encouragers. We don’t have a Simon Cowell bone in our bodies! We look for ways to encourage you on your strengths as well as offering constructive suggestions on how to further sharpen your message. If you are interested or would like to ask some questions about this service or any other that we offer, please fill out the form on the Request Informtion tab. I’ll be in touch within 24 hours to set up a free consultation call.