Communication Feedback: The 3 x 3 Rule

To criticize used to mean “to give counsel.”  Now it too often means to tear down.  In the age of the One Minute Manager, it is appropriate to pause and think about what true “criticism” means – feedback.

It is high time that we balance the positive with what so often is pure negative in the area of our personal communications.  There is absolutely no question that praise is the most powerful kind of feedback to motivate change.  I was amazed at the profound meaning a few nice words (that I saw as no big thing) had for someone recently.  I must continually remind myself.  So must we all.

The problem is that, as speakers, we don’t take the time to get objective feedback.  Although I now make my living from professional speaking fees, it was a scant ten years ago that I should have paid people to listen.  I didn’t begin changing until I heard myself bumble though a speech on an audio playback and counted 35 “nonwords” in the first three minutes.  I then began doing something to gain both kinds of feedback.  There are three basic types of feedback you can get.  In all of them, remember the 3 x 3 rule – ask for or look for three positive aspects of your presentation as well as three areas where you could improve.

  1. People feedback – in every presentation, ask five people for three pros and cons
  2. Tape record every presentation you give.  When you hear it played back, write down the three most positive aspects and three areas for improvement.
  3. Videotape yourself at every opportunity.  This is by far the most powerful and effective feedback tool.  Again, apply the 3 x 3 rule.

If you multiply the 3×3 rule, you get more than 9.  The actual result is geometric progression and improvement.

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