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Ross Lyons outside ABC Perth

Ross Lyons, a local football coach, has a saying; “Failure is feedback”.

Whenever his side loses, he treats the loss as feedback on how he and the team can improve.

The problem with being a communicator is that you don’t get a final score. As a speaker, I was getting paid and getting gifts like chocolate and wine too. So it wasn’t all bad. But I want to be the best. I want to deliver the most value that my audience has ever heard anywhere. I actually want to change their life!

So even if there was only 1 point between me and my competition, I wanted to know… were some audiences whining about me while others were giving me wine? Was I a little (or a lot) less wonderful than I thought I was? Was I winning or losing? I really had no idea.

So after speaking to 4 different audiences about 4 different subjects this week alone, I decided it was time for me to gather some feedback from the people that mattered – my audience and the people who book me to speak.

The responses were really interesting (at least to me).

  • One audience said nothing (they didn’t reply to my request for feedback).
  • Another audience simply said “Thanks for coming” (which could mean they are from the school of “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”).
  • The third audience sent a short, but very complimentary message; “Great stuff!”
  • And the fourth audience gave verbal feedback and also sent a lengthy email:

“I was monitoring their eye contact and behaviour and I can tell you that was the most engaged I’ve EVER seen this class. Can you come back? The whole year needs to hear this! 

“Thank you very much for your time sharing your knowledge and experience with us. The boys really appreciated everything you had to share with them and will benefit from your observations, experience and wisdom. We have had many follow up questions today and the talk has made the course of Accounting more relevant so thank you very much. I loved it and have been discussing the new ideas with friends and staff.

 “In terms of the presentation you nailed the tone that you were sharing something with them they would benefit from and today they felt very appreciative of your generosity. They have asked a great deal about technology and what do I think of several different ideas that have grown from yesterday’s talk.

“My fellow Accounting teacher, has indicated that if possible it would be great for her class to hear your story and I have provided her with your details. I have spoken to the Head of Year 11 and he was very keen. 

“I will speak to the Head of Year 10 and 12 and see if there are any opportunities as I think it would be great for all boys to widen their horizons, think big and start looking for opportunities.

“Thank you very much it was a sensational talk that we all benefited from.”

So I guess at least one time this week, I was a winner. And, more importantly, that means my audience was too.

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