This is the fourth in our series of six posts for teachers working with innovation and pitching in the classroom.

An important part of sharpening a pitch is to present it to others and learn from their reactions, before trying again. In a teaching situation, you most often work with a subject for a certain amount of time, before it all ends with your students pitching. In this article, you can learn more about how you handle the feedback situation afterward, ensuring that everyone gets their hands on that crucial feedback.

How do you want your burger?

Most people link the word criticism with something negative. It feels implied that you shouldn’t go around criticizing each other. In a pitching context, though, this is completely misunderstood. Critique is one of the most important tools we have when sharpening each other in pitching – but you have to be careful that the critique delivered stays constructive.

A good method to ensure this is to give it in the shape of a burger: two soft buns wrapped around the juicy meat. The burger is, of course, a metaphor.

First off you give them one of the soft buns; some of the positive critique. Tell them what you think went well during their pitch – because it is important that the feedback situation takes place in the most positive way possible.

An example of the first bun could be: “I think, it is great, that you kept within the time frame. It is hard to say so much in such a short time.”

Then you share the “beef”. It is usually here that the students who just pitched learn the most. But it is also here that the words often can have a negative ring to them, thereby being the place where the presenters can possibly feel hurt. Here, it’s important to try and deliver your critique with a smile.

An example of the beef could be: “As I just said, you have said much in a short time. I think that is great. But perhaps you could consider emphasizing the problem some more compared to your other points.”

To emphasize that you mean all your observations well, finish off by handing the other bun. Therefore, don’t start off by giving away all you positive feedback – save some for last, till after you’ve given the, for some, problematic feedback.

A final example of the last bun: “I for one really like your use of black slides. Then we can really focus on you when you say something important.”

Who serves who?

Remember to make the other students in the audience get in on the feedback too. Your feedback as a teacher can usually be what helps your students forward, but allowing their peers to also try this form of feedback-giving is also a valuable tool in any student’s toolbelt.

All in all, let your students try to “serve each other burgers” after each pitch. A good principle, taken from the meeting rooms at the car manufacturer Toyota, is to let the interns start (your students in your case). This way they are free to deliver their feedback and isn’t shaped by what you as their teacher just said. You will be surprised by what will come out of this – both in terms of discussing the pitch and the feedback.

Bon appetit!

Mads Damsø

Mads Damsø

My big interest is to better the communication between people. I hope my background, combining studies of Comparative Literature and Journalistic Communication, where analyzing the great stories and learning how to tell them, becomes handy.

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