Strictly Come Dancing and the Art of Feedback

If you were to Google “feedback techniques”, you’ll get dozens of responses. All carefully curated feedback models. Allowing you to give helpful feedback in the workplace as a coach or manager.

My focus is on coaches; they give feedback regularly – it’s in their job description. Many managers also act as coaches, so let’s concentrate on coaches.

Watching TV on Saturday night last, I came across the best feedback model I’ve ever seen. The Strictly Feedback Method. Strictly Come Dancing, to be precise. A shimmering, colourful spectacle of entertainment to keep the British public amused. And a lot like it too – audience figures for the BBC phenomenon show an average of 8.6 million.

Let me explain where feedback comes in “Strictly”.

Once the dancers have performed, the judges have to give feedback then mark them out of 10. The feedback follows a routine. First, Craig Revel Horwood (the baddie) tells the dancer how awful they were in several ways, then ends on a small high note of positive.

Anton Du Beke (the goodie) gives a shower of positives, then dribbles in one suggestion to improve and finishes on an overall high note.

Brilliant. Anton’s feedback brings a smile to the dancers face; Craig makes them cross and defensive. Anton is particularly clever with his negative. He always phrases it as another way of making a move. “Next time, bring your arms out more to greet your partner, that way, you’ll flow so much better”.

Craig would have said, “you not doing the flow right, it’s dreadful, you need to improve it”.

Anton gets my vote, and here’s his process unpacked:


  • Positives – three or four pieces of positive feedback
  • Alternative – one way of handling the dance routine differently
  • Meaningful – a flourish at the end with a meaningful positive comment.

Topman Anton, who was recently a professional dancer on the show, knows how to do the job. Once again, this proves the sacred cow that coaches don’t need to have done the job. I’m sorry, but modern mentors and coaches do.

So remember to PAM your feedback or use the Strictly Method, and you too can get a 10 from Len.