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how to ask for feedback on writing

Hey, can you take a look at this?

This is one of the most common ways to ask for feedback - it’s a quick question, but it’s also vague. What exactly are you asking them to look at? And more important, what are you asking them to look for?

From company wide memos and press releases to professional bios and social media captions, it never hurts to have a second set of eyeballs on your writing. Feedback is fundamental in helping you sharpen your message and produce top quality content. It’s signaling your willingness and desire to improve your writing. The right approach and mindset can allow you to receive any feedback and implement it successfully.

But is asking, “can you take a look at this?” the best way to get accurate and impactful feedback? Not usually.

Asking for feedback is common among the toth shop team; we know the value in bringing in a fresh perspective. Overtime, we’ve also learned the value of asking for feedback in the right way.

Here are six tips for asking for feedback on writing:

1. rename it

Let’s be honest - the word ‘feedback’ has a tendency to make people cringe. It’s taken on a negative connotation and can easily spike your anxiety and the anxiety of the person you're asking for feedback from.

For the rest of this blog, I’ll continue to refer to it as ‘feedback’, but I encourage you to think of it as asking someone for notes or their thoughts.

2. know who to ask

It isn’t just how you ask, but also who you ask. Look for people who have the relevant knowledge and experience. At the same time, you want to ask people who you can trust from a professional standpoint - will they be constructive and respectful?

Once you’ve narrowed down the list, keep it narrow. We want to avoid editing by committee, which can make the entire feedback process messy and time-consuming. Instead, focus on identifying a trusted 1-2 people to turn to for reviewing. Your list might be different depending on the type of writing project you have.

3. be clear

Before you ask your identified reviewer, take the time to get clear on what you’re asking for and be specific with your feedback requests. The value of good feedback lies in the details and offering clear, specific instructions allows someone to focus their attention in a constructive way.

Quick example: Do you think this email sounds okay? vs. How does this email come across in terms of tone?

Quick example #2: What can I do to make this better? vs. What are 1-3 changes I could make so that the presentation is more clear and engaging?

The first questions may or may not elicit thoughtful feedback. But the second question will have your reviewers focused and ready to offer insights in a way that is productive.

4. provide guidelines

Most people are more than willing to take the time to offer feedback, but it’s helpful to offer them guidelines on how to give it.

When you ask for feedback, especially for bigger writing pieces, be sure to include:

  • Deadline

  • Scope

  • Format

Can they drop all their thoughts on the document? Do you need it back within a week or is the deadline flexible? Would you like to set up a meeting to go over feedback? These are questions you need to proactively answer when you send the initial feedback request.

5. be brief

Once you have all the information - the who, the what, the how. It’s time to actually ask for the feedback.

Whether it’s in an email, a direct message, or voice memo, you want to make sure your request is concise and to the point. Respect their time and be brief.

Check out this sample email:

Hi [name],

I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on [PROJECT]. Specifically, I need someone to look at [CLEAR FEEDBACK REQUEST #1] and [CLEAR FEEDBACK REQUEST #2].

There’s some flexibility on my deadline, but if you could have your notes gathered by [DATE] I’d appreciate it. Feel free to [METHOD OF LEAVING FEEDBACK].

I appreciate you taking the time to do this and let me know if you have any questions!


6. receive with grace

So this has less to do with asking for feedback and more about what you do after you receive it.

Remember - feedback is and should be a GOOD thing. Writing can always be improved in some way, shape, or form. Having someone’s insight will shed light on areas that could be made stronger.

It’s important to receive feedback with an open mind; view this as an opportunity, not a personal attack.

So, next time before you send a quick “hey, can you take a look at this?” message - hit pause. Taking the time to craft a more intentional and thoughtful feedback request will pay off in the long run.

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