Going through the script for an upcoming member feedback session, I caught a line which read:
“We’re soon going to be launching some exciting new changes we think you’ll love. […] And we want your feedback!”
If you’re telling members how you want them to think and respond, you’re not gathering feedback, you’re trying to persuade them.
There’s nothing wrong with persuasion, we do it all the time. But don’t confuse it with gathering feedback.
A feedback session is about creating a neutral space where members are encouraged to be honest and happy to share the things they like and dislike. You have to tease out the key insights (both the good and bad).
If you begin by telling members how excited you are, they’re far less likely to give honest feedback for fear of upsetting you (or being seen as the ‘negative’ person in the group).
A persuasion session is where you try to get members as excited about the upcoming changes as you are. You give them a narrative, sell a vision of the future, and identify their own efficacy to help make that future happen.
Both are fine approaches, just be clear which yours is.
If you need a clearer distinction…
When you’ve made a decision about a major change, you need to persuade members.
When you’re not sure what decision to make, you need to gather feedback.