One thing that every presenter will face in their career is a tough critic. Whether you are speaking to a room full of business professionals or an auditorium full of high schoolers there will always be at least one critic that is willing and waiting to give you their opinion about how you did.

The first tough critic I faced left me feeling disheartened as if I had not done the job I had been hired to do. Though that moment was difficult it was also one of the most impactful moments in my presentation career. It taught me how to accept critique and grow from it rather than allow it to tear me down. That day I learned one very important reality.

There is a difference between a Coach and a Critic, and every presenter must learn how to not just tell the difference, but also respond to each type.

Meet the Critic
The critic could also be known as the heckler. This is the person in the audience that from the minute you walk on stage is looking for ways to discredit or disprove what you are sharing. They often look for every possible mistake that you make and are ready to jump on it when they spot one.

Let’s face we have all met someone like this in our lives, but when we decide to stand in front of an audience and share our ideas we open ourselves up to even more critics, and criticism can wreak havoc on our mental states. In a recent blog post I came across this quote which sums up perfectly the damage that can be caused by criticism it said “Most psychologists agree that criticism does not lead people to change behavior. Instead it creates anger and defensiveness on the part of the person criticized. Communication between the parties is shackled, and positive relationships impeded.”

This is exactly what criticism can do. That is why when you spot a critic it is time to put up your shield and protect yourself against damaging critique. One of the best ways to do this is by early detection. As a presenter you must open your eyes open to those people that are just looking for ways to pick you apart, and then be ready to let their critique slide off your back.

Now let me be clear there is always something we can learn, even from the toughest critic. But what I’m recommending is that you must decipher the constructive criticism from the damaging critique and pull out the data without the emotion.


Meet the Coach
The coach is similar to the critic in that they are always looking to help you improve, but there is one giant difference between the coach and the critic. The coach is your biggest fan. They are rooting for you all while pushing you to improve your skills. In a article I saw recently it described this way, “Coaching is designed to improve performance, criticism is designed to unload anger.”

As a presenter it is vital to have a coach in your corner. This is someone that you can trust and that you know has your best interest in mind. When a coach delivers feedback, you will feel safe in taking it to heart, because you know they care about you and want to see you win.

Improving your skills as a presenter requires honest feedback, however to much criticism can leave a person paralyzed and frustrated. The best presenters have found coaches to stand beside them and help them develop. They have learned to silence the critic’s and listen to their coaches. When executed properly you set yourself up for a healthy pipeline for growth setting you up to succeed as not just a presenter but as an overall leader.

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