In Brownlee & Associates (B&A), we use videotaping – on DVDs – in almost all of our courses: Presentation skills, Sales, Negotiation, Advanced Communication, etc. We normally do NOT review and comment on the trainees videotapes individually and give detailed & specific feedback in front of the group.
Our reasons for doing this are numerous:
1. Feedback about communication is very personal & intimate and having someone, even a “specialist”, pointing out “errors” in front of the group can be seen / felt as demeaning by both the actor and also the audience. If any of the attendees have problems with self- esteem, this type of activity might aggravate the problem and have unexpected and undesirable consequences for the course or organization.
2. Psychologically, Any training should be in a safe, secure environment and reviewing videotapes of the trainees can destroy this for all the actors involved. It is even worse when only some participants are videotaped and reviewed. Who decided who should be videotaped and following what criteria? In B&A, we believe it should be ALL or NONE. we prefer to videotape ALL participants rather than none! Complaints about lack of time available are just excuses for not programming the course properly!
3. Do the people giving the feedback also get evaluated by the audience members? If not, it seems to be unfair!
4. While a video is being reviewed, what are the rest of the group doing?
– Listening & observing intensively & learning from the actions of their companions?
– Laughing at the person on the screen?
– Scratching their tummies and thinking about the up-coming weekend?
– Worrying about their turn to be be the next “victim”?
Or are they doing something which is:
– Task-oriented and requires them to be focussed on what is happening & how?
5. We believe that it imperative that any trainer dealing with Non-verbal communication skills has been trained in Kinesics and not just read a couple of books on the topic. Many trainers do NOT give valid feedback based on the Culture, Context & Cluster (the 3Cs) of the communicative activity but merely on the use of individual, isolated indicators. An example is the fallacy that “arms crossed” means the person is negative or defensive. Without considering the 3Cs, thic could be totally incorrect. One indicator means absolutely nothing. there MUST be a cluster – the more the better.
Since observation is a key element if effective communication, the trainer should always ensure that this is reinforced during the training and prior to videotaping, the trainees should be told:
1. What to look for in the activity:
– Good vs bad points in general
– Structure of the event: logical, linked, controlled, etc.
– Verbal & non-verbal communication: congruence, reflective vs opposed, etc.
– Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) stipulated in the training contract with the client.
2. How to give, and receive, structured feedback. In B&A, we use a simple feedback form so that the trainees have a clear way to organize their comments. Remember – Criticism is about who you are (and no-one should criticise you without your permission & criticism often includes “mind-reading!). Feedback is about what you have done and how to improve! If there is any argument about the feedback, the evidence is on the DVD and, in this case, the video can be shown to validate the feedback (or not!).
3. The trainees should give their feedback to their companion: starting with the newest / youngest members and then progressing up via the “influences” in the group with the most powerful person in the group also known as (A.K.A.) “The Power” giving their feedback just before the trainer who should always be the last one to give feedback WITHOUT playing the video.
4. Every trainee should take detailed notes about the feedback given and once everyone has been seen, videotaped and received feedback, the whole group should do the execise again while applying the feedback given. This session should also receive feedback on how each person has improved compared to the first time.
In Brownlee & Associates, we ALWAYS give each trainee their own individual DVD so that they can review it in their own time at home. We have found that the trainees are more critical of themselves and are able to identify areas of possible improvement for themselves. We do, if specifically requested, give individualized feedback soon after the course finishes.
As communicators &/or trainers, it is our responsibility, & duty, to ensure that whenever we work with our clients, we bear in mind the psychological impact of whatever we do and HOW we do it to ensure that the audience feel respected; that their contributions are valued and that they, as individuals, are not subjected to ridicule in front of the group.
© Ian Brownlee, Brownlee & Associates, S.L. (August, 2012)
Bilingual web page (English & Spanish) http://www.brownlee-associates.com