Communication Matters Newsletter         
August 2017                                                            Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn   Find us on Google+   View our videos on YouTube   Visit our blog
Dear  ,

The worst feedback you can receive as a speaker
As a speaker, I get lots of gifts.  The crystal clock (that got tossed in my carry-on and security picked up as a "dense object").  Pencil sets.  Gift cards.  Coffee mugs.  Key rings.  They are all appreciated (though not all used or kept).  

But the best gift I could ever receive as a speaker is...
Feedback public speaking

If we were talking microphones, feedback is bad.  ( squeeeeeeaaaallll !!!).  But if we're talking about speakers (who want to get better), feedback is good.  Very good.  Even... Vital.  

I remember clearly the moment when I discovered that feedback is what makes a speaker become great.    

A speaker had been invited to a weekly group I was a part of.  The purpose of our group was to make each other better. It was (and still is) a great model, a safe place to get vital feedback, and a ton of fun and learning for everyone involved.  As one of the few speech coaches in the group, I regularly gave formal, written feedback to  all of  our speakers.  And I did this day, with a guest speaker who came to share with us.  I stood in line, handed him my written feedback, and explained what and why I had given it.  Later I received an email from him: " If you ever give me feedback again, I will wad it up in front of you and throw it in your face. "   I have no idea what emotion he was trying to spark in me, but he can be assured he will never receive feedback from me again.  But, sadly, he is probably as good as he's going to get as a speaker (and come to think of it, I've not seen him on the speaker circuit much, even though he is an expert who had much good to say).  

This colleague (it's a pain to even call him that) missed the best opportunity he had that day for improvement.  Not knowing if you are good or bad is a terrible place to be.  No feedback is worse than bad feedback.  

How should you handle negative feedback? I had a friend today share that he had received a bad evaluation from one member of the audience.  One.  The temptation is to dismiss it.  Outlier.  Had an agenda.  Jealous egotistical expert who wishes he was on the stage instead of you.  And all  that  might be true.  But to dismiss an honest opinion is dangerous.  But it also hurts and bothers us.  No one likes to be told he was bad.    

Let's change the question.  A growth mindset sees criticism (the pessimist's term for feedback) as an opportunity to get better.  What can you learn from it?    

Three metrics to help you deal with a negative evaluation:

  1. Did they identify themselves?  An anonymous evaluation is worth almost nothing in my book.   People who take such potshots really lose some credibility.  If you're willing to sign your name, I'll read and ponder everything you  have to  say. And I'll probably call you to talk about it to make sure I understand what I need to do for improvement.      
  2. Were they specific? If they say things like, "The speaker was a joke." Or "The speaker wasn't very interesting", then I really don't have a lot to go on.  If they name a phrase or identify a behavior, now we've got something to change.  The more specific the feedback, the more useful it becomes. 
  3. Did they offer anything positive, or a way to improve?  If all they say is what they didn't like, even if it was specific, it's hard to know if there was a way to satisfy the listener.  Some people just aren't going to like anything.  If they say, "If you had..." then I've again got something that can make me better. 

But the absolute worst feedback you can receive as a speaker is the one almost everyone loves to get.   It's the vague, " I loved your speech. " Or " Nice talk today. "  Without specifics, I don't know why it was nice.  They may be just being nice.  They may have liked that you finished early.  They may have liked a specific story.  They might have liked your pretty slides  or even your outfit or hair .  But without any specifics, I'm left to just bask in my greatness, and I'll never be any better.  The worst part is most speakers hear this TEN TIMES more than they get honest feedback, and they begin to believe it.  The more you talk, the more you'll hear " Nice job " and the more you'll get stuck in your ways.  It may, in fact, be good.  But I'd rather know WHAT was good (and bad) than to just feel good.     

If you see me speak and tell me, " I liked your talk! " you can expect me to ask you, " What did you like about it? "  The conversation we then have will help both of us.  I'll find out your needs and how I helped meet them, and you'll be able to give me actionable information on how to connect with future audiences.  And, if I'm good and you're honest, maybe you'll even tell me how I could be better.  That would be the best gift of all.  
Ask yourself this question as a speaker, " Do I want the audience to like me  (i.e. hear great things about how I did) , or do I want to get better? "   If the former, you should take some time to really think about why you are speaking.  If the latter, then solid, concrete, truthful feedback is the best possible gift a speaker can receive.
Mindset Book by Carol Dweck
I HIGHLY recommend Carol Dweck's Mindset  book - a MUST READ for anyone who wants to excel at anything.
Communication matters, what are you saying?

Related Post:  Handling a Bad Review
Storytelling Workshop August 30th
**A few seats still available!**

Storytelling is the One Skill Every Master Communicator Uses

Stories have been around since before printed text, and they clearly have the power to reach an audience and be remembered. But what are the skills necessary to tell a good
story? And how can you use stories in business situations to make your message more memorable and more impactful? Join us in this fun, interactive half-day workshop where the participants make the material come alive.  

Whether you're giving a technical work presentation, attending a networking event, engaging in a sales/persuasion situation, or crafting your online content marketing plan, you can apply the principles of storytelling you will learn in this workshop to your message. 

Come learn the one communication skill you can't live without!

Here's what a few past attendees said about their experience:

Storytelling Quote

"Highly recommend. Practical and applicable to all fields."

"It's definitely worth attending! A key takeaway: My company reps (sales, engineers, etc.) need to have customer stories ready for when we meet customers or are planning customer projects."

"I came thinking I had no stores to tell. I now have over 20 on my list!"

"Stories engage and connect better than lists. This class convinces you of this truth and introduces you to tools to make you more effective."

"I thought this course was really effective and empowering and the content exceeded my expectations.  My key take-away is that stories can come from anywhere. They don't have to be groundbreaking or life changing events. This was a really good course and easy way for people who are scared of public speaking to get comfortable."

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Are you a Professional Speaker?

Key5 Speaker Conference

Get More Speaking Engagements with videos of you presenting to a live audience!

The Key5 Speaker's Conference is a half day event designed for professional speakers. If you're a paid professional speaker looking for a complete, high quality video marketing library to promote your business then this conference is for you. You'll walk away with a full suite of marketing videos and still shots taken in front of a 100+ person live audience. Key5 is held in an upscale venue and produced by a professional video crew with 7+ cameras and professional audio and lighting. 

To prepare for the event, you'll also have full access to personal coaching from our team at MillsWyck Communications. We will be providing intensive support for all 20 speakers before and during the event. If you become a Key5 speaker, you can receive a special discount on any of our fall 2017 Workshops to help get you "speaker-ready."

Currently, there are 14 speaker spots left.  Don't delay, grab one of those spots now to catapult your speaking business!   Early Bird special ends August 30th!

Key5 Speakers Conference
Presentation Sin
Presentation Sin Book Speaking Tips

This month's Speaking Tip taken from  Presentation Sin   addresses the sin of ignoring feedback!

Speaking Tip_ Ignoring Feedback
Need a Speaker for your Event?

Alan Hoffler Keynote Speaker

Alan Hoffler, founder and director of MillsWyck Communications, is a Business Communication and Presentation Skills Expert and accomplished keynote speaker. He uses the skills he teaches to craft authentic, custom messages that energize and motivate audiences.  

Alan's Signature Business Communications Topics:
  • Winning Communication - Strategies to Connect and Convince
  • Presentation Sin: The Practical Guide to Stop Offending (and start Impressing) Your Audience
  • Why Modern Business Communication is Killing Productivity (and what you can do about it)
  • The Silver Bullet: The One Skill Every Communicator Should Use

Check out the full list of Alan's  keynotes  or contact us a bout customizing a presentation or workshop for your group.  If you need a speaker for your next corporate meeting, professional organization, or conference, contact us  at 

Key5 Speaker Podcast

A Podcast For Speakers, By Speakers. 
Key5 Speaker Podcast

Learn what makes professional speakers unique, their best practices, how they promote themselves, and how they grow. In less than 20 minutes get an exclusive view of speakers' business tips, and more in the weekly edition of the KEY5 Speaker Podcast. Each episode ends with a helpful "MillsWyck Minute" speaking tip.

Upcoming Workshops

Raleigh, NC
Aug 28-29 (Early Bird Rate ends soon!)
Oct 16-17
Dec 11-12
Richmond, VA*
Sept 18-19

Raleigh, NC 
Aug 30
Richmond, VA*
Sept 20

*To sign up for Richmond class, email us at

Join us for two days that will change your life in our Powerful, Persuasive Speaking Workshop!  This highly interactive, hands-on workshop gives you the skills to face an audience and deliver content in a clear, concise, and compelling manner. Close that deal, give that career-changing presentation, or motivate your audience to action. Speak with confidence, power, and ease. Limited seating.

In our Storytelling Workshop, learn the one skill every master communicator uses. Whether you're a hesitant speaker, reluctant content writer, or a communicator who wants to be GREAT, our storytelling workshop  will teach you a valuable and easy-to-learn technique to captivate your audience.

Here's a sneak peek at what a public speaking skills workshop from MillsWyck Communications is really like:

MillsWyck Communications
Communication  matters.  What  are  YOU saying?
Alan Hoffler, Philorator (Teacher & Lover of Speaking)
(919) 386-9238 

A lan Hoffler is the Executive Director and Principal Trainer at MillsWyck Communications.  He is a Trainer, Speaker, Author, and Coach who passionately moves others to effective and engaging communication. 
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