Assessments of your presentations are one of the most important tools you can use to continuously improve your performance. Assessments can be performed from two main perspectives. Your perspective, and through feedback from others most importantly your audience.
In this post I will write about how to assess from your own perspective.
After many years studying and helping others to improve their presentations, I have discovered that the most effective self-assessments are those that are done:
- Honestly – there is nothing to be gained by not being honest with yourself;
- In timely fashion – before you forget important details of your performance; and
- With few and meaningful questions – so that you quickly and simply get to what worked and what can be improved on for your next presentation
There are hundreds of questions that you could ask yourself, assessing every detail of every step of your presentation preparation and delivery. This however requires a substantial investment of your time and can be overwhelming to convert into improvement actions.
So instead, I recommend a simple one-page review of your presentation, with 10 to 20 questions evaluating your performance.
Let’s take a look at 5 great questions to include in your one page review.
Q: Did you achieve your presentation goal?
Perhaps the most important outcome of your presentation is whether you achieved your presentation goal or not. The first thing to ask yourself is whether you had a clearly defined presentation goal. If you have done so, then it should be clear to you how to evaluate whether you have achieved your goal or not. Some goals will be directly measurable at the end of your presentation – for example, getting approval for an investment request. Others may only be able to evaluated after a specified timeframe – for example, training a team in a new process. If your answer is No, use further questions in your assessment to understand whether this may have been caused by a problem with your presentation
Q: Did you get through all of your presentation in the time allowed?
Did the actual time match your understanding of how much time you would have? If not, why not? Did you fail to clarify the timeframe as part of your preparation, or did something unforseen occur that changed your timeframe at the last minute. If your timeframe changed, were you able to adapt your presentation to still ensure you covered all your key points, core message, and call to action? Did you put expected timings for each section of your presentation and did you allow some contingency time? Were there any particular sections of your presentation that overran against time expectations? If so, why might that have happened?
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Q: Did you feel in control of your nerves?
This is not asking whether you were nervous or not. Being nervous is normal. This is asking whether you were able to manage your nerves in a way that still made you appear a confident presenter. If you have the opportunity to record your presentation, then watching your presentation is a great way to assess whether you appeared confident and natural or not. Look for any symptoms of nervousness whilst speaking. If not, you will likely still be able to assess how comfortable you felt in front of your audience.
If you were not comfortable consider:
- Did you prepare adequately?
- Did you practice your presentation?
- Did you apply any of the confidence boosting strategies covered in the webinar on Delivery.
Q: Did your audience appear interested and engaged throughout your presentation?
When thinking about the body language, facial expressions, and behaviours of your audience do you feel that you captivated their attention and kept them engaged throughout?
If you can identify with some of the points below about your audience’s response, then you will be able to answer Yes to this question.
- Smiling and laughing
- Reciprocating your eye contact
- Taking notes
- Asking relevant questions
Equally if you saw your audience appear confused, preoccupied, struggling to keep awake, unable to sit still, or constantly looking at the clock; you’ve got a big clue that you were not engaging enough.
Q: Were you able to effectively deal with questions raised by your audience?
How you answer a question can sometimes make the difference between your audience accepting your message or not, and what they ask you often gives you clues as to how good your presentation was received. How many questions did you already have answers prepared before your presentation? Were you able to answer questions in a way that reinforced your key points and core message? Were there any questions indicating that your points were not clearly understood? Were there any questions indicating that you had missed key information from your presentation? Besides identifying what might have been missing, ask yourself how might you have missed this or rather was there anything you could have done to identify this with the benefit of hindsight.
There are many more great questions you can answer for yourself to help you evaluate your performance honestly and meaningfully. Remember to remain balanced. Too often we focus only on the negatives and fail to reward ourselves for the positives. Whilst the negatives enable us to get better with each presentation we give, it’s the positives that create the belief and ultimately build your confidence. So don’t be shy or ignorant to acknowledge what is helping you become a top rated presenter, no matter how small the matter may be.
Please leave a comment if you have some other great questions that have helped you evaluate and improve your presentation performances.