F is for Feedback
Improving your abilities as a speaker requires you to examine your skills. Review your strengths and weaknesses after every talk. Take advantage of each presentation as an opportunity to advance your talents. Every time you are in front of an audience is part of your journey, not a stand alone event.
It is important for a speaker to look closely at their performance, but you cannot properly ascertain the best perspective with self-appraisal. You need to enlist the feedback of others to best appreciate your skills as a speaker.
Create an evaluation form that inquires of your audience suggestions on how to improve. Ask a series of questions and allows them to both rate you on numerical scale as well as giving them space for written ideas. While it might not be appropriate to use such forms at every presentation, when you can view immediate impressions from a group, you will begin to notice trends. Awareness is the first step to expanding your talents.
In addition to written evaluation forms you should also solicit direct feedback from people you know and trust. Ask co-workers or other trusted advisers to attend your speeches and take notes on what you do well and areas where you can improve. Be sure to let them know that their observations are important to your goal of becoming a better speaker, and that you are not requesting them to only tell you about positive aspects of your speaking.
If you request another person to assess your speaking, accept their input with a positive attitude. Leave your ego at the door. Even the best professional speakers know that they have quirks. Ignoring these flaws will not allow you to excel.
Don't shoot the messenger when they point out your mistakes. If they tell you that you said "Um" or "Ahh" too often or that you kept your hands in your pockets, realize that this is important information. Knowing that you are doing these things will allow you to be conscious of bad habits the next time you are on stage.
All feedback is good feedback, but because someone did not appreciate something in your talk does not mean you necessarily need to change. How one person perceives your presentation is subjective. You need to have several sources over time giving your their reviews to best understand the areas to focus your improvement.
Always thank those who give you feedback (both those you asked and those who volunteer information), as people who critique your performance are doing you a favor that can be the catalyst that leads you to greater success.
Have A Great Day.