Giving feedback can be awkward. Who likes telling someone where they need to improve?

  • If you're a leader (or want to become one!), feedback is an essential part of your role

  • 96% of employees say they want to hear feedback regularly

  • Employees who receive regular feedback from their managers are 3x more engaged at work

So how can you become more effective at giving feedback?

Like most things in life, the answer can be found in the sphere of Rupaul's Drag Race. Specifically, with judge Michelle Visage.

It's Clear Why We Should Listen To Her

How Michelle does it

  • Drag Race contestants know that Michelle grew up in the NYC club and ball scene around drag culture

  • She is also known for her work singing in a girl group, Seduction

  • This context for her skills and background makes it clear to queens why her feedback has value for them

How you can do it

  • What skills or experience do you have that are relevant to the feedback you're giving? Share your backstory (without making it all about you!)

When I was learning to public speak, I practiced by...

I also worked in retail for a few years. What I found really helpful was...

Over the last 3 years at this company, what I've found effective is...

She's Coming From A Good Place

How Michelle does it

  • Michelle's feedback is always rooted in the fact that she wants to help the queens improve their drag

  • She never gives feedback with a hidden motive, or to benefit herself

  • This builds trust between Michelle and the queens, and can make it easier for them to swallow direct (and sometimes harsh) feedback

How you can do it

  • Be up front! It might feel a bit awkward to say, but if you're genuine, share the reason why you're offering this feedback.

I'm hoping this will be helpful feedback for you so next time you can speak with even more confidence.

I know that if we can work out these kinks, you'll be able to not just meet, but exceed your targets.

I think with some more work on this, you'll be ready to take on a leadership role in our team.

She's Super Specific

How Michelle does it

  • Michelle doesn't dance around what she means, which can sometimes come off as harsh

  • She'll explicitly tell queens that they need to work on blending their makeup, improving their padding, or that their outfit is too basic

  • This makes it crystal clear what the queens need to work on to take it to the next level

Michelle Visage looking unimpressed saying

How you can do it

  • Be explicit! What is the specific element or skill someone needs to work on? If you are too general, it's hard for someone to understand what to work on.

When you repeat "um" and "uh" a lot, it makes you sound unsure.

When talking to customers, make sure to tell them about our sale after offering to help.

You need to keep focused during the meeting. When you go on tangents, it takes the group off topic.

She Acknowledges Progress

How Michelle does it

  • When a queen improves from one week to the next, Michelle is the first to give them credit

  • She tells them she can see they are putting the work in

  • Acknowledging the effort makes the queens feel seen, and because she's a tough critic, they know they've really earned the recognition

Michelle Visage gesturing with her hand saying I LOVE THIS FOR YOU

How you can do it

  • Be generous with your praise when it's earned - tell people you can see the work they're putting in

Great job presenting to the team. You've definitely reduced the number of 'uh's' and 'ums' which made you sound a lot more confident.

Awesome work with that customer! After you mentioned the sale, I saw them fill up their cart!

Really nice job staying focused in the last meeting. Following the agenda closely was a great way to keep things on topic and moving forward.

People Want Her Feedback

How Michelle does it

  • Michelle's role is literally a judge, so all the contestants are signing on to get her feedback

  • In real life (aka not reality competition shows), it's important to make sure someone will be open to your feedback (otherwise, you're wasting your breath)

Rupaul saying sweet sensitive souls everywhere

How you can do it

  • Before launching into your feedback, prime them so they can get into the right frame of mind

I took some notes during your last presentation. Is it okay if I share some feedback with you?

I pulled some of your sales stats from the last month. Do you have some time to go through it together?

Do you have time this week to debrief the project meeting? I have some thoughts on what I went well and opportunities to improve.


Which of these would be a good way to prime someone for feedback?

Take Action

When in doubt ask yourself: What Would Michelle Visage say? 😜

Take the next step to put this into action by:


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