Overwhelm by feedback

 

Have you ever asked for feedback on online content that you’ve written, before you felt comfortable or were ready to publish it? A blog post perhaps, or a page for our website? An e-book or content for the promotion of a new product or workshop? And has it ever happened to you that you got back so much feedback that was all useful, yet conflicting?

Overwhelm by Feedback There is a reason for that, and that is the secret of great feedback. By that I mean the secret of asking for feedback in order to receive highly useful feedback. How does that sound?

Why is asking many people for feedback, asking for trouble?

Asking for feedback to help you refine your online content, prior to publication, is always a smart idea. However, when you’re asking many people for feedback, this can leave you in a worse place… Every person you will ask general feedback from will do this according to his or her own values, skills, opinions and views about you, your product or service and your target audience. According to their perception. Giving a text to someone for feedback without a clear task, means that you have no control over what you will receive. Multiply that by the amount of people you have asked, and this will inevitably cause confusion and overwhelm. Where do you start? What will you take on board, how do you qualify the validity of the feedback, and how will you amend your text to create a great text at the end of that? My answers is: you won’t. You most likely will be in a worse place than you were before you asked for feedback. You will have to spend a lot of time to make sense of it all.

What is the consequence of asking many people for generic feedback?

Generic feedback for various people will create a sense of overwhelm. Now, you don’t just have your own text, but a whole host of comments, suggestions, corrections and tips, in a whole range of styles and voices. From my 14 years in the translation industry I know only too well what the results of that can be. Feeling overwhelmed is never a good thing, as it clouds your clear judgment. This means that what was your editing job has now become a big juggling act. The end result will be a text with an inferior overall quality. Why? Because you won’t be able to see the wood for the trees. You have taken on board – regardless of how big a part – of the feedback you received and started amending your text. Then, you may well end up with a mixture of styles, gaps in the logic, less congruency, and more doubts than you had before. And the affected congruency is almost always a nearly invisible result to you as the author, yet quite noticeable to the reader. You really want to avoid that. What you want is highly useful feedback, am I right?

How do you end up with feedback that is highly useful?

Having highly useful feedback that enhances your written content prior to publication is the goal you have in mind. So, with that clear goal in mind, you can take 10 these simple steps, you get what you need:

  1. Keep the goals of highly useful feedback in mind.
  2. Write down the three most important aspects you want feedback on. This could be anything that you need help with, such as grammar, logical order, spelling, terminology, structure, clarity, omissions, style, etc.
  3. Hand-pick 3 people you know and trust, and select them on the skills that covers one of the three most important aspects you’ve listed down under 2. Make sure you select them on qualities you value in them AND those that they enjoy doing. I mean, I am good at spelling, but I don’t enjoy editing texts… so please don’t ask me for editing jobs. (Believe me, I learned this the hard way).
  4. Ask each of these 3 hand-picked people to give you specific feedback on ONE of your three elements, and do this in writing – this could be by whatsapp, text message, facebook messenger, e-mail, so long as it’s in written form. That ensures clarity. In addition, this way you will never get conflicting feedback, AND you have all your main points covered.
  5. Give these 3 wonderful people a clearly written description of the main feedback point you would like to receive from them.
  6. Process the received feedback.
  7. Ask further questions if you need more clarity.
  8. Once edited, read the amended content out aloud to yourself.
  9. Amend where necessary.
  10. Save, publish and share!

Oh, and one other thing, always be paying much more attention to questions, comments and feedback from your ideal clients and your specific target audience than anyone else’s. It’s them you want to write for and them you want to serve.

Well, this hassle-free routine for asking and receiving highly useful feedback always works for me. This will definitely keep overwhelm at bay. I truly wish you the same experience. Please give me your specific feedback in your comment by sharing what your biggest take-away is from this post.

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Live, Love & Leave your Legacy
Saskia xx  

14 thoughts on “Overwhelm by feedback

    1. Saskia van de Riet Post author

      You’re very welcome, ZsaZsa. How are you intending to apply this?
      Saskia
      xx

      Reply
  1. Maria

    I guess when you’re publishing your blog, you never know what comes back to you; you, therefore, have to take each with a grain of salt and at the onset be very clear what your intention for your blog post is. If it’s to ventilate your thoughts and feelings, you would probably not care about what others think; however, if you want to be an authority on your topic, you may better be sure that you’re not talking nonsense or else would be called out by experts like you. Just my 2c.

    Great list, Saskia!

    Reply
    1. Saskia van de Riet Post author

      Totally agree, Maria. You never know what comes back at you, publishing blog posts. And that’s half the fun!
      Saskia
      xx

      Reply
  2. Paul Taubman

    I agree – too many cooks spoil the broth. Having too much feedback will pull you in too many directions. Get a few trusted advisors.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  3. PeggyLee Hanson

    Asking for feedback is like asking for an opinion. You will get as many different answers as to the number you asked. However, as you suggested, asking for specific feedback to a specific individual just might curtail the frivolous and train-wreck comments. My biggest takeaway? Have only 3 trusted colleagues to provide feedback.

    Reply
    1. Saskia van de Riet Post author

      I love your oneliner, PeggyLee, it sums it up, perfectly: “asking for feedback is like asking for an opinion”. Enjoy your trusted trio of colleagues!
      Saskia
      xx

      Reply
  4. Samantha

    HI, great list and suggestions. I have to say that I do agree with Roy and that comments good or bad on a blog post can lead to conversation and engagement. Always good I believe. Thanks again for the good suggestions.

    Reply
    1. Saskia van de Riet Post author

      Hi Samantha, comments on a blog posts are always good – a totally different topic entirely 😉 Using a call to action to conclude a blog post to encourage comments, is something I totally support and believe in, too. Asking feedback on content – before you publish it online – is a whole different ball game. So thank you for pointing that out!
      Saskia
      xx

      Reply
  5. Roy A Ackerman, PhD, EA

    I have a cadre of trusted advisors to whom I refer documents that I feel could be improved with positive (or negative) feedback. However, that is different from feedback on my blog site. There I want everyone (please!!!!) to comment- conflicting or otherwise, to stijlate discussions and arrive at optimal solutions.

    Reply
    1. Saskia van de Riet Post author

      Very smart indeed, to have various strategies, for various content modes and purposes. I appreciate your valued add to this post!
      Saskia
      xx

      Reply
  6. Ramona Mead

    Great post and tips. I write creative non-fiction and have a few “first readers” I rely on, but I only use two or three for each piece. I’ve struggled in writing classes where I get feedback from all the other participants, however I’ve gotten much better at listening to my intuition and remembering that I don’t need to listen to everyone, lol

    Reply
    1. Saskia van de Riet Post author

      Beautifully put, Ramona, ‘first readers’ and I can see how we’re on the ‘same page’ 😉 And maybe it’s ok to listen to everyone, yet be clear on taking action on only feedback that supports your goals.
      Saskia
      xx

      Reply

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