How to improve classroom comments with a Feedback Buddy


Case-based MBA programs are all about the comments you make in class. Those comments make up a huge part of your grade and set the first impressions that your classmates will have of you. That’s why it is so important to (1) understand how you come across when you make your comments and (2) use that information to improve. I suppose you could accomplish that by filming yourself on your smartphone, though that would likely break any rules your school has about using electronic devices in class. A much easier solution is to enlist what is called a “Feedback Buddy” to to help evaluate your comments.

What Feedback Buddies Do

It’s really hard to be on the dance floor and to visualize yourself from the balcony at the same time. Likewise, it’s very difficult to accurately assess how you come across with your comments in class and what you need to improve. That’s why you should enlist a feedback busy to keep special notes on the things you say. The specific things that you might want them to note when you speak are:

(1)  The logical flow of your comment (was it easy to follow?)

(2)  Your volume (could you be heard?)

(3)  Your comment’s relevancy (did it fit in with the flow of the conversation or did it take the class on a tangent)

(4)  the reaction of the professor and the class (positive or negative?)

(5)  Any public speaking ticks to correct (you’re practicing a skill when you speak in public, practice it correctly!)

Who should you choose?

An ideal feedback buddy would sit on the other side of the classroom from you so that they can see you clearly when you make your comment and ensure that your voice carries across the room. Choosing a feedback buddy is also a great way to get to know someone better so think about picking someone you might not otherwise socialize with, or someone who had a pre-MBA career you’d like to learn more about.

If there is exceptional demand for Feedback Buddies in your section, don’t be afraid to form networks that you can use to get insights from many different people.

How should you give and receive feedback?

After your choose your buddy, keep a comment log for them on a separate piece of paper, noting the details mentioned above. You’ll want it to be something easy to take from class to class that you could just hand them if need be. Make sure to set initial expectations that you want real, honest feedback, not nice words to make you feel good. Then meet every 2-3 days (perhaps between classes), or whenever you have ~5 comments to debrief with the other person.

You’ll likely want to meet more frequently earlier in the first year when you are still learning how to play the comment “game” and want to iterate more rapidly.