It’s no secret that no one is born with all the qualities and skills of a highly regarded public speaker. The only way to reach that status is by continuously striving to be a better version of yourself on stage. One way to do that is to take a moment to reflect on your performance after every presentation. We’ve listed a few tips for conducting such an evaluation.
Conduct a personal assessment
Alessandra Cimatti of SlideCoaching.com advises to begin your self-evaluation after each performance with these questions:
- Was I able to convey my message clearly?
- Could the audience follow my flow?
- Did my rehearsal leave me confident and ready to present?
- Was I able to finish my presentation within the allotted time? Did I encounter any other time constraints during the presentation?
- How well did my slides work? Was I embarrassed by errors in the text or graphics?
- Were the important elements of the slides easy for the audience to see and understand? Were there any other technical troubles with the slides (animation wouldn’t play, etc.)?
- How was the question and answer period? Did I have trouble answering any of the questions?
- Were there any technical issues before and during the presentation? How could these be prevented in the future?
Watch the recording of your presentation
In an era where many events are video-documented, you may be able to obtain a recording of your presentation. It might be available from the event organizers, or perhaps one of the attendees recorded the talk – and may even have uploaded it to an online video site such as YouTube. Of course, in most cases you can record your own presentation, if you wish. (Check with the host or organizer first, if there is any chance of concerns about confidentiality or proprietary information.)
If you do have access to a recording, watch it! Analyze your performance from your audience’s viewpoint. Here are three aspects to consider:
- Confidence – How comfortable were you on stage? What did your body language say? Is it evident you had a good connection with your audience?
- Clarity – Did you present your information clearly and fluently? Did you adequately emphasize your takeaways? Were there delivery problems, such as stuttering, or excessive use of fillers, clichés or flowery language?
- Structure – Did you have and follow an effective outline? Could the audience follow you easily? Did they take away what you intended they should?
Check the organizers’ evaluations
Most organizers ask for feedback after a presentation, using evaluation forms, or – thanks to today’s technology – real-time feedback apps. Ask them if they will share this feedback, and see how the audience rated your message, presentation style, and so on. You might be surprised at the responses – which parts of your presentation resonated the most, made them laugh, or inspired them to action. You might also be taken aback at what they reacted to badly – how a mannerism distracted them from your message, etc.
Ask the organizers for their own feedback
The organizers will almost surely have something to say about your presentation, too. In addition to discussing your delivery, you might also tackle the following:
- Audience background – Did you do adequate homework into the audience’s interests, demographics, and professional background?
- Event expectations – Were you properly aligned with the organizers’ objectives for the event? Did you effectively play the role they expected?
- Venue – Were you adequately informed about the venue, the stage setup, and the technology tools available for your presentation? How proactive were the organizers in preventing technical issues?
What are your successful actions for improving your presentation skills and effectiveness? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.