We are so happy that 280 readers participated in our 2012 reader survey. As promised, we’ve chosen three participants randomly to receive speaking books of their choice.
In this article, we summarize a few survey results, and discuss how we’ll try to improve Six Minutes for you based on this feedback.
We’ll first review the quantitative results from survey questions, and then examine the qualitative feedback written by survey participants.
Insights from Survey Questions
All questions in the survey except the last one were multiple-choice style questions designed to help us learn more about you and the types of speaking challenges you face.
Here’s just a few of the things we’ve learned:
1. Our readers are highly educated.
- 85% of readers have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. (37% Bachelors; 39% Masters; 9% Doctoral degree)
2. Our readers cover wide demographics.
- 47% of our readers are women; 53% are men.
- 23% are under 40 years old; 24% are 41-50; 37% are 51-60; 16% are 61 or over.
- Though we did not ask this in our survey, we know that our readers cover the globe:
- 53% are from North America
- 21% are from Asia
- 15% are from Europe
- 6% are from Oceania
- 3% are from Africa
- 2% are from Central and South America
3. Speaking is critical to the career of a majority of our readers.
- 25% are teachers, instructors, or professors
- 9% are corporate trainers
- 5% are speaking coaches or consultants
- 21% are executives, entrepreneurs, or professional speakers
Given that 34% (25%+9%) of our readers are involved full-time in teaching and training professions, we’ll try to devote more articles and book reviews to this speaking niche.
4. All article categories were scored positively by at least two-thirds of our readers.
“Scored positively” = either “my favorite articles”, “always helps me” or “sometimes helps me”
- 98% for delivery techniques and speaker habits
- 97% for speech writing
- 93% for speech critiques
- 89% for visuals
- 74% for book reviews and interviews
- 67% for weekend reviews and professional speaking articles
Given the diversity of our readers, we can’t expect that every article will resonate with every reader. Nonetheless, these results are encouraging as they show we are providing value most of the time.
5. Short speeches (less than 10 minutes) are most common.
For practical reasons, most of the speeches we analyze on Six Minutes are under 20 minutes. However, we try to devote more articles to lengthier presentation strategies too, like this recent article on designing training courses.
6. Medium-sized audiences (10-30 people) are most common.
Most speaking advice applies regardless of audience size, but there are definitely some critical differences. For example, speech gestures should scale with audience size.
7. Our readers speak often to educate, motivate, and entertain.
Upon reflection, we should probably devote more articles to “speaking to entertain” topics. While most of us do “serious” talks, the ability to simultaneously entertain our audiences is critical.
8. Business, training/classroom, and conference presentations are most relevant.
In the coming months, we’ll be devoting articles to several of the niche speaking situations identified here, like delivering a eulogy or serving as the master of ceremonies. Each of them presents unique challenges to speakers.
Insights from Survey Comments
The final question of the survey allowed for open-ended responses, asking:
How can I make Six Minutes better for you?
The thoughtful and detailed responses to this question included both praise and criticism, and all were very interesting. [See the graphic at the end of this article for the most common words in these responses.]
Among the most common requests were:
1. Publish more regularly and more frequently.
We’ll do our best on both counts.
- Over the past 17 weeks, we’ve published either 1, 2, or 3 articles each week, and we will aim to maintain that.
- To publish more often, we’ll certainly need quality submissions from guest authors.
It also seems likely based on some of the comments that there are some subscribers who are not receiving all articles.
- I’m not aware of any delivery problems, so I would urge you to check your email settings to make sure that emails from Six Minutes are not incorrectly being blocked (e.g. marked as spam).
2. Provide more help finding articles in the archives.
We are constantly making tweaks to our website to make it easier to find articles which meet your needs.
- All articles are listed in our article archive.
- We have created special pages for our speech critiques and book reviews.
- We recently published a list of our 50 most popular articles.
- We will seek other opportunities to create pages like this to highlight older articles which are still valuable to you.
3. Write an article about ____ [the topic I need help with most]____.
We added most of the requested topics to our publishing calendar, and will try to publish these in the weeks and months to come.
Why did we add only most of the requests? Well, because we’ve already published articles which match several of the requests: speaking from a lectern in church, choosing speech topics, and speaking to an audience of another language.
- Speaking in Church: Lectern or No Lectern
- The Secret of Choosing Successful Speech Topics
- 5 Tips for Cross-Cultural Communication
4. Make it easier to download Six Minutes content to read offline.
We are looking into the creation of several downloadable resources — some free, some paid. If there is a specific resource you are interested in, please let us know.
5. Keep Six Minutes free!
In 2013, we plan to begin offering Six Minutes products and services, likely starting with a book or e-book.
Having said that, I assure you that Six Minutes itself will continue to be free to everyone. Our mission is to be the world’s best resource for public speaking and presentation skills, and to make this information freely available to all who wish to improve their skills.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in our survey. We are always interesting in feedback from our readers — contact us anytime.