Providing Feedback to Speakers

  • Louis Davidson (@drsql)

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1506

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Providing Feedback to Speakers

  • Henrico Bekker

    One Orange Chip

    Points: 27652

    Firstly, speakers invest a lot of their own time, mostly unpaid to give back to the community, and anyone who fails to appreciate this should stop attending sessions.

    The list of feedback items you mention first is why a lot of people aren't really interested in speaking, together with the usual interruption during a presentation of individuals, trying to show their expert knowledge on your topic, or just being rude. These individuals usually waste everyone's time with unnecessary interruptions as well, then leave you with bad ratings and feedback along the lines "didn't cover the level 100 session in detail enough" or "could not answer my level 500 questions". 
    Feedback should be constructive and positive in every way, as you said, actionable and not an outlet of the attendees mood on the day.

    Thank you for your contributions, however small or big they may be.

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  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 997104

    "I don’t like the speaker’s choice of shirt"

    My understanding is that Steve Jones get's that complaint a lot. 😀

    Seriously... good article.  Thanks for taking the time to write it up and post it.

    --Jeff Moden


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  • VeritableHero

    Old Hand

    Points: 302

    Very good points. I have only attended one SQL Saturday (and no other conferences) at this point so my experience is extremely limited. However, I personally have always looked for feedback on things I do. Contructive criticism about something that can be changed is appreciated.

    I love making procedures and processes more efficient. If I feel that way about lines of code, I'm sure I would feel that way about a presentation that I created with the hopes of helping someone.

  • Robert Sterbal

    SSChampion

    Points: 10995

    I strongly encourage speakers to make a recording of their presentation in advance, and then to post it in webinar format to YouTube.

    Practicing presentations almost always makes them better, and having a recording of them makes them easier to share.

    412-977-3526 call/text

  • Sreekanth B

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 6145

    Henrico Bekker - Monday, June 18, 2018 12:16 AM

    Firstly, speakers invest a lot of their own time, mostly unpaid to give back to the community, and anyone who fails to appreciate this should stop attending sessions.

    The list of feedback items you mention first is why a lot of people aren't really interested in speaking, together with the usual interruption during a presentation of individuals, trying to show their expert knowledge on your topic, or just being rude. These individuals usually waste everyone's time with unnecessary interruptions as well, then leave you with bad ratings and feedback along the lines "didn't cover the level 100 session in detail enough" or "could not answer my level 500 questions". 
    Feedback should be constructive and positive in every way, as you said, actionable and not an outlet of the attendees mood on the day.

    Thank you for your contributions, however small or big they may be.

    Well Said!

  • Scott-144766

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4229

    It might not be a good idea to ask computer-minded people to rate presentations as above or below average. If I've been to four talks in a day, it's likely that two of them were below average, no matter how good they were.

    --
    Scott

  • brian.fine 41497

    Valued Member

    Points: 67

    Once, after teaching a class, one person gave me all 1's (Poor) and in the Comment section added, "Best class I ever had."
    I caught up to them just as they were leaving the building and asked what they had meant. They were surprised that they thought 1's meant excellent and then changed all the numbers.
    A risky move on my part, but my compensation was based on those reviews.

  • Jeff Mlakar

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2879

    Henrico Bekker - Monday, June 18, 2018 12:16 AM

    Firstly, speakers invest a lot of their own time, mostly unpaid to give back to the community, and anyone who fails to appreciate this should stop attending sessions.

    The list of feedback items you mention first is why a lot of people aren't really interested in speaking, together with the usual interruption during a presentation of individuals, trying to show their expert knowledge on your topic, or just being rude. These individuals usually waste everyone's time with unnecessary interruptions as well, then leave you with bad ratings and feedback along the lines "didn't cover the level 100 session in detail enough" or "could not answer my level 500 questions". 
    Feedback should be constructive and positive in every way, as you said, actionable and not an outlet of the attendees mood on the day.

    Thank you for your contributions, however small or big they may be.

    I can see that you are coming from a good place with this sentiment; however, I disagree with some. Yes, speakers invest their own time and travel money (usually not reimbursed) to do these events but let us not pretend there aren't other reasons for this. Many are consultants marketing their name brand. Others simply do it because they like it and are willing to pay the price to be in that position. To be honest, some sessions are not very good. They need to know that in no uncertain terms. I have heard this sentiment from an organizer one time and was floored - I dropped those evals (for sessions I attend) in the garbage like it was hot. Do not waste my time. 

    I started speaking at SQL Saturday's last year. I love it when I get an interrupter. It tells me they are engaged. They point out things I didn't think of and I can usually direct the conversation to a close as I see fit - it is after all my talk. I do not let things escalate to the point where it is unproductive. 

    >>Feedback should be constructive and positive in every way, as you said, actionable and not an outlet of the attendees mood on the day.
    Here is my perspective as a speaker: I am not there to be told how great I am. The whole point of feedback from the audience is to improve and connect more with them. I do not want to hear positive feedback. I want to know the problems and things that didn't go well. I don't fly across the country to be placated because it sounds nice and positive. Incumbent with speaking is being able to work a crowd and manage them. I'm quick on my feet so that helps but it also let's me hone other soft skills.

    I used to be a debater in high school FWIW. That has shaped me. I have found that it does not matter if you are presenting in front of academics, church, social event, professional trade group, people at the bar, etc - same principles apply.

  • Louis Davidson (@drsql)

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1506

    brian.fine 41497 - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 12:37 PM

    Once, after teaching a class, one person gave me all 1's (Poor) and in the Comment section added, "Best class I ever had."
    I caught up to them just as they were leaving the building and asked what they had meant. They were surprised that they thought 1's meant excellent and then changed all the numbers.
    A risky move on my part, but my compensation was based on those reviews.

    They had this problem one year at PASS too. One of the questions was opposite in terms of what 1 and 5 meant, so the scores all seemed really off until they removed that value from the mix.

  • Louis Davidson (@drsql)

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1506

    Jeff Moden - Monday, June 18, 2018 8:46 AM

    "I don’t like the speaker’s choice of shirt"

    My understanding is that Steve Jones get's that complaint a lot. 😀

    Seriously... good article.  Thanks for taking the time to write it up and post it.

    Ha! I wasn't thinking of him. I wore a striped shirt once that apparently was a bit much and got a comment on it. I guess I do see where appearances do matter, maybe. My favorite was one year at (I think Tech Ed), there was this genius guy who wore the rattiest T-Shirt ever, and apparently they had to make him keep his pants on for the presentation. 

  • Louis Davidson (@drsql)

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1506

    Scott-144766 - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 10:26 AM

    It might not be a good idea to ask computer-minded people to rate presentations as above or below average. If I've been to four talks in a day, it's likely that two of them were below average, no matter how good they were.

    Yeah, that is a definitely good point. I don't think there is any way to rate presentations (or anything really) that isn't subjective. I have a hard time giving people I know bad ratings (particularly if I have to write something) because it might be obvious it was me 🙂 

     think as long as you explained how you arrived at the below average presentation score, giving the person advice on how to get better than the rest, it isn't the worst thing in the world. Unless I am one of the below average ones and the advice is "great presentation, I learned more from you than others, but weren't as interesting as the two other speakers who are professional speakers and gave out better candy than you did (The correct answer is Snickers...Snickers.)" That would sting a bit.

  • Beatrix Kiddo

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 32407

    Scott-144766 - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 10:26 AM

    It might not be a good idea to ask computer-minded people to rate presentations as above or below average. If I've been to four talks in a day, it's likely that two of them were below average, no matter how good they were.

    I would assume that the average referred to was more general than just the average of the presentations I had seen on that one day, though.

    Issues I've had with feedback have been when the feedback form is clearly from the venue, not the speaker (on the venue's headed paper) but they want you to review the speaker as well. I want to say if the audio was terrible (SQLBits London 2018!) because of the challenges presented by the type of building it was in, but I'm also aware that the speakers have no control over that themselves. However I do want the speakers to know that choosing that venue next time too might put me off seeing them again.

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