Feedback: Visual and Verbal Cues

Feedback: Visual and Verbal Cues


Define feedback and describe how you can receive audience feedback in the moment

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  • An advanced model of communication includes a sender, a message, a receiver, a channel and feedback. Feedback represents a message of response sent by the receiver back to the sender.

  • Feedback happens in realtime as your audience provides you with visual and verbal cues in response to your speech.

  • If feedback indicates that your message hasn't been received as intended, you may need to correct course in the moment to make that connection with your audience.

Elements of Speech Communication: Feedback


You audience may give you visual, non-verbal cues that signal how they may be receiving your message.

The simplest model of communication relies on three distinct parts: sender, message and receiver. More complex models throw in a fourth element: the channel via which the message is sent. The most advanced communication models include a fifth element: feedback, that is, a return message sent from the receiver back to the sender. 

Feedback could be as formal as handing out a presentation evaluation following your speech or presentation. Typically though, you can gauge feedback as your speech is happening by paying very close attention to the visual and verbal cues your audience may be giving you while you speak.

Verbal and Visual Cues

Verbal and visual cues refer to those sounds and reactions you may hear and see made by your audience. If you tell a joke or a funny anecdote, you expect laughter as your feedback. One good way to tell if your joke bombed--no laughter. And, as awkward as it can be in the moment, you get that instant feedback on how you may need to correct course and potentially deviate from your scripted approach in order to make that connection with your audience.

Visual cues can also include making eye contact. As you scan the room, are people returning your gaze? If so, you have an engaged audience, attentively listening to your speech. If you see half-closed or closed eyes, try adjusting your tone and volume: you just might need to wake your audience up a little bit.

And of course, depending on your speech topic, the lack of a smile or a chuckle doesn't mean your audience is connecting to your words. Tears can indicate that your words have an incredibly powerful effect on your audience if you're talking about a particularly moving or emotional subject.

The key takeaway is to remember that this feedback loop of immediate audience reaction plays out in real time as you speak, so it's up to you to be observant and think two to three steps ahead if you need to correct course based on your audience's feedback.

Source: Boundless. “Feedback: Visual and Verbal Cues.” Boundless Communications. Boundless, 26 May. 2016. Retrieved 01 Nov. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/introduction-to-public-speaking-1/elements-of-speech-communication-21/feedback-visual-and-verbal-cues-100-10670/

Terms to Know
  • feedback

    The receivers' verbal and nonverbal responses to a message, such as a nod for understanding (nonverbal), a raised eyebrow for being confused (nonverbal), or asking a question to clarify the message (verbal).