For those of you who teach lengthy courses or run a series of seminars, it’s important to check in on your audience’s needs and wants from time to time. Regular readers should know that it is crucial to know your audience at the beginning of a course or seminar series, however many presenters forget that audience needs evolve over time. The best public speakers evolve with their audience. Here are two concrete ways to do so:
1. Conduct a Mid-Course Survey
Most instructors wait until the end of their course before administering a course survey. This is fine for shorter assignments, but it’s often too late for longer ones. Like a mid-year performance review, a survey in the middle of a course will give you a chance to address any concerns before the final survey, ensuring that your audience (a.k.a. your customer) doesn’t walk off with a bad impression. If you receive positive feedback from your survey, you’ll know that you need to reinforce your strengths until the end of the term.
2. Collect Ongoing Qualitative Feedback
Although not as clear (and more prone to bias) than a proper survey, simply chatting with your audience from time to time about the direction of your course can be a very useful way to stay on track. Not everyone will be willing to give you candid feedback (especially in front of their peers), but if you have built a strong relationship with your audience, you should be able to get some useful information. The main benefit of this kind of feedback is that you can elicit it as often as you like and make subtle adjustments as you proceed through your course.
Bring it All Together
Combining these tools, and acting on the feedback they reveal, should ensure that you have a satisfied audience by the end of your course, seminar, or lecture series.