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5 Tips to Improve the Feedback Loop

Tuesday, October 30, 2018
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As a content creator, you’re likely familiar with requesting feedback on your learning projects. It’s a necessary hurdle we all must clear.

In a professional setting, it’s rare to create content that doesn’t involve stakeholders. Whether or not you are the subject matter expert, there are multiple people in your organization who have a vested interest in what you’re creating. How involved they are will probably depend on format (video, blog post, web page), shelf life, and where the content will be published.

Regardless of purpose or target audience, it’s a good idea to seek peer feedback on any public-facing content. If you’ve been through this process before, you know that obtaining feedback can become more complicated than it needs to be. Follow these best practices for the feedback loop to avoid the common pitfalls that slow the project delivery process.

Limit the number of reviewers

Everyone has an opinion. To keep your project timeline on track and get helpful feedback, limit the number of people you ask to review your work. This will allow you to focus your attention, make the revision process efficient, and avoid unnecessary twists and turns.

For instance, if you request feedback from an entire department, things will likely get chaotic very quickly. Opening the floodgates can result in a large number of conflicting opinions, each evaluating through their own unique lens. If you want buy-in from a larger group, it is more appropriate to include additional people during the brainstorming process before development as opposed to during the content review.

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Give each reviewer specific instructions

Similar to limiting the number of reviewers, it’s also a good idea to give each reviewer something specific to focus on and provide feedback about. This is helpful in two ways:

  • It ensures all aspects of the content are reviewed.
  • It keeps the reviewers on track.

For example, you might direct someone to focus specifically on the overall flow of the video and how the portions fit together. You might instruct someone else to focus on technical aspects, such as the audio quality or issues with color.

Don’t be afraid to send a first draft—even though it won’t be perfect

Perfect never arrives; this is especially true when dealing with something subjective. But again, in the interest of keeping your project timeline on track, you need to get something out the door so you can iterate. So don’t stress out about your first draft being perfect.

Find reviewers you can trust to give honest feedback

To produce the best final product, it’s crucial to receive honest feedback. It may be tempting to take the easy route and ping colleagues who always tell you, “Everything looks great! There’s nothing I’d change!” Don’t do that. It would be a disservice to everyone involved in the process—and to the final product. Instead, seek out people you know will offer valid, constructive criticism. These folks will push you to create great content, and help you grow professionally. This also ensures feedback loop efficacy. If you do not seek meaningful feedback, you put your reputation at risk, which can affect trust, buy-in, and future opportunities with stakeholders.

Use a tool designed to help with the review process

Using the right tool for the job is extremely important if you wish to execute the project in an efficient manner. When it comes to content reviews, many people tend to rely on a manual process, making the feedback loop frustrating and time-consuming for all involved.

For example, providing feedback for videos can be an especially daunting task, requiring reviewers to note time stamps and write lengthy descriptions. However, using a tool that is specifically built for this process can save you time and headaches. At TechSmith, we use Video Review. With this program, you can assign your reviewers a deadline to keep the process moving. Reviewers can leave comments within the program, as opposed to drafting an email, and a time stamp with a marker is automatically generated. The reply option enables conversation with context, and comments can be marked "resolved" as they’re implemented.

If you’re interested in learning more about tools to help with the feedback process, be sure to join Daniel Wittenborn, senior product strategy manager at TechSmith, at 2019 ATD TechKnowledge. His session, Overcoming the Challenges of the Content Review Process, will help you learn how to save time and effort by getting actionable feedback when you need it and how you want it.

About the Author
Allison Boatman is a member of the marketing team at TechSmith.
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