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The Sandwich technique undermines your ability to be straight forward

Delivering the feedback

Many Toastmasters are taught to use the Sandwich Technique when delivering feedback but I think it is manipulative and undermines your ability to be straightforward. The model suggests that you couch negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback. It may be easier for you, but not for the recipient.

It could sound something like this:

“Sara, I’d like to give you some feedback on how you handled your recent work on the Japan project. I really like how you spent time building a relationship with the client. They seemed to appreciate it. On the other hand, I would have liked you to put more time into doing more research necessary to create a robust proposal to them. Overall, I’d say you’re doing a good job managing the client’s expectations. “

Now what is Sara going to walk away with? She’s going to ask herself is she doing a good job or not? She’s likely to focus on the more critical message the middle.

Separating positive and negative feedback is a much more effective way of delivering a clear message of expectations and reinforcing appropriate performance.

A better way to approach Sara would be as follows:

(1) Be specific

(2) Behavioural

(3) Positive Results

“Sara, I’d like to give you some feedback on the Japan proposal. It seemed to me that the research you presented wasn’t thorough enough and left a number of questions unanswered for the client [specific]. In the future I’d like you to conduct a more thorough review of what the competition is doing [Behavioural] This would enable the client to make an informed decision in a shorter period of time [positive results]. “

To weave this into our Toastmaster evaluations an idea is to start with


  1. Introduction – how content relate to you
  2. Loosely decide on a conclusion –what is the positive result you want to enforce?
  3. Pick Speech Delivery points – Be specific, select behaviours you want to see implemented
  4. Firm up your Conclusion – Enforce the positive result, recognize good performance

Not very many people like to be bearers of bad news; in fact most of us avoid it like a ten-pound box of chocolates. Giving critical feedback can be made easier by using the specific-behavioural-positive results routine.

When you give positive feedback, make sure it’s free from implied criticism “This speech was so much better than your last three!” is not positive feedback. Remember that ongoing feedback should be both positive and negative.

As toastmasters we have an excellent opportunity to give courage through encouragement. The power is in your hands, use it!