How to critique a speech without being a jerk: 5 tips from Michael Davis

August 4, 2022

1 min read

How to critique a speech without being a jerk

Hi, I’m Michael Davis, a professional speech coach and the founder of Speaking CPR. I’ve worked with hundreds of corporate professionals, TEDx speakers, and nervous first time presenters to help them overcome their fear of public speaking!

One of the most common questions I get is how to critique a speech. You want to be honest with your feedback without crushing their confidence! It’s a delicate balance. Here’s my advice:

Tip#1: Critique the speech, not the speaker

Remember that the speaker has gone out of their way to ask you for feedback. Make sure you’re critiquing the content and delivery as opposed to the person. Instead of saying “you were unclear”, consider saying “this section seemed unclear”

Tip#2: Share speeches seamlessly

In the virtual world, it’s a pain to share videos (upload, download, watch it on one screen, take notes on another screen, follow up over email — too time consuming). With Yoodli, you can share a speech at the click of a button! Think Google Docs but for speeches!

Tip#3: Use time stamped feedback

You want your feedback to be as specific as possible. With time stamped feedback on Yoodli, you can leave comments as you watch specific parts of the speech. The speaker no longer needs to scroll back and forth to find exactly what you were referring to.

Tip#4: Use gentle recommendations

The goal is to help speakers’ find their own voice. Don’t tell them what to do. For example: Instead of saying “pause for emphasis,” soften the tone and say “I might pause here”

Tip#5: Content, structure, delivery

Consider separating your feedback into distinct sections. Critique the content (the actual message that the speaker had), structure (how well one section flowed into another) and delivery (their filler words, body language, and more). Luckily, Yoodli provides a transcript and data driven analytics on their delivery to help support your feedback.

Wrapping Up

Ready to critique your first speech? Log onto Yoodli and start with a speech by your favorite celebrity. There are already some examples from Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama for you to start with. Take a look!