How To Deal With Criticism
If you're behind a microphone, in whatever capacity in whatever particular field of broadcasting, then there are two things you will not be able to escape.
The first of these is that your voice will not sound the same when you listen back to your work. This can make you cringe and a little self-conscious. But you'll get used to it. It's actually helpful to hear back what you've recorded.
The other thing you'll face, is criticism.
Gav from The Pips drops by to talk to us about how to deal with criticism and let it help your presenting and your show grow. The Pips is a great asset to you if you want to grow your presenting level and get feedback from presenter agents and radio execs. So drop them a line on their site if you want to work on your presenting.
If you want to send Gav any of your audio, why not make a demo for your podcast. This will make it easier to get feedback on your show and our guide can help.
There are two types of criticism you can face. One of these is actually super helpful and you should bare it in mind to help you grow.
The other can be harmful. So it's important to know the difference, and then to train yourself to block the latter out.
Constructive criticism is good. With this, people are listening to your podcast and giving you their honest opinions on how you can make it better for them.
We know from our article on testing your audience that it's good to get as much of this as possible. Different people will have different opinions, so it's good to get a wide variety of constructive criticism.
It is designed to help push you and make you better. And to make your podcast better.
Negative criticism shouldn't be a thing, but unfortunately it can happen. This is only designed to annoy you and bring you down.
So how do you deal with it? A lot of it comes down to how much you care about what it is that you're making. Let me give you my real like experience.
For 7 years, I worked in a biscuit factory. And I didn't really care if people liked the biscuits I was making or not. I was there to pay the bills & earn some money, not because I wanted to be the next Mr Digestive or Mr Bourbon and start my own biscuit empire! Criticize the biscuits all day long, I am not interested!
Then I broke into radio and that all changed. I did care about the product, because the product was me.
When I first broke into radio, which was in 2002, Facebook was two years away from being founded and Twitter came two years after that. Both took a few years to really take off. So when I was starting out as a professional radio presenter and I am at my most vulnerable and raw, I was somewhat protected from social media as it didn't exist. And I am very thankful I was.
The rise of Social Media means you it can be tough to escape criticism. Social media means that everybody has a public opinion, good or bad, and that opinion usually has to be projected, good or bad.
When somebody criticizes the product and that product is you, then it is very difficult to not be hurt by that and take it personally.
Everybody who is a product, regardless of whether it is in broadcasting, sport, music or TV & film, is hurt by criticism. That is why some high profile stars do not have a Twitter account and why lots of singers/actors don't read reviews of their album or film/play. It doesn't matter how big you are, criticism stings.
There are plenty of great uses for social media, and it's a great platform to support your podcast. Be it using Facebook, using Twitter or using Instagram, there's so much you can do to promote on these platforms. You just need to try and teach yourself to block out the noise from critics.
Getting On With It
When I left education, I started work as an industrial cleaner, I then worked on building sites and then in a biscuit factory. They're all tough environments for a teenager to grow up around.
I was surrounded by hard working people who worked eight hours everyday in a dead end job for little pay. They were tough people and I worked with some very strong characters. You could tell very easily if you had done anything to annoy them, because they were stood in front of you telling you so. No back stabbing, no gossip, they would tell you to your face.
You'd have an argument, settle your differences, make up and get on with the job. And that is how I react to criticism in radio. I deal with it and get on with it.
To be honest, a lot of the criticism a presenter gets isn't directly about them as a personality. Radio presenters usually get criticism about the “rubbish music” they play all the time, and the amount of “adverts” they play.
That never bothered me for a number of reasons. Most importantly, they were still obviously listening. And that means I was doing something right to keep them around.
Secondly, the criticism was not directed at me so I wasn't that bothered. I often find it funny that a person can spend five minutes typing out a message to send to the station. Whereas it would take less than 2 seconds to turn the dial over to the next station. I always thought that said more about the person complaining, than the station.
How To Deal With Criticism
However, criticism about you can happen, be it constructive or negative. But when somebody ever criticizes me personally, then I have two options.
I can choose to ignore the criticism. Some people are only ever happy when they are unhappy. These people love to moan and might feel like they are an expert at everything. So they have opinions about how best to do the job you do. But they are not actually doing your job. And there is a reason for that.
So take solace in the fact that they are listening to you. And you've done enough for them to form an opinion of you or your show. That means you've had an impact!
I have always thought it is better to be disliked than for somebody to have no opinion on you at all.
Engage With It
You can decide to actually engage with the criticism, but you should beware of what comes with that.
I have done this. I have called up a texter who has sent in criticism and I have replied to tweets and Facebook messages. I've opened a dialogue.
If you decide to engage, the key is to be professional at all times. Don't lower yourself to their level, and plan your response. I normally find the people I have engaged with tend to stop criticizing.
If you engage and do it well, you can win them over. You can turn negative criticism into constructive criticism.
They Are Your Listener, You're Not Their Listener
No matter what kind of criticism you receive, and no matter how you react to it, it's important to remember one thing. They are your listener, you're not their listener.
I always have this thought in my mind when any criticism comes my way. You are talking about me, I am not talking about you. This is not me being arrogant, this is me merely pointing out the fact that I am behind a mic doing the job I love to do. And I have worked very hard to do this.
I'm having an impact, people are listening and forming an opinion about me which is exactly what I want. So to critics I say, thank you for listening and talking about me, it shows I am doing something right.
So if you are behind a mic in whatever capacity and somebody criticizes you, deal with it and get on with the job. They are listening to you, not the other way round.