Presentation Feedback Is the Tool for Improvement
by Allan Kaufman and Allan Misch
When was the last time you gave yourself presentation feedback? Most people just don’t do it.
When did you last ask your audience for presentation feedback? Giving presentations is pointless if your audience is not benefiting from listening to you.
So how do you know if you are progressing as a presenter? Through presentation feedback.
We (Allan and Allan) get presentation feedback continuously through self-evaluation and from others. We use this information to improve our presentations and delivery. We suggest that you do the same. Here’s a 3-step presentation feedback process for self-improvement and to improve your message.
Step 1 — Self-evaluate your presentation before you present it to your audience.
Audio record and/or video record your presentation in a practice session. Play back the recording. Listen and/or look for effective presentation organization and construction, attention-getters, vocal variety, gestures and engaging stories.
Make necessary changes to your organization and content. Work on eliminating distracting mannerisms such as filler words, pacing and nervous body movements and gestures.
Work on improving shortcomings such as poor timing, emotionless delivery and a weak opening or closing.
Self-evaluation should correct glaring weaknesses in your presentation. It will also reinforce or bring to the surface your strengths. But self-evaluation has its limitations.
It won’t catch the qualities, good and not so good, of which you are unaware consciously. That’s where the next step comes into play.
Step 2 — Get presentation feedback from trusted colleagues, friends or family and/or a mentor.
Arrange to practice your presentation in front of them. Ask them for presentation feedback. Find out what you did well and how you could improve your talk.
If you plan on having a Question and Answer session, brainstorm possible questions you may be asked. Develop answers to the questions. Then, give the questions to a panel of your friends or colleagues and have them fire the questions at you. Evaluate how well you respond.
The information on the organization, content, and delivery of your presentation and supporting materials is invaluable to you. This perspective will shed light on strengths and weaknesses that you are not aware of.
You will be armed with information that you did not have before — how others view your presentation.
Now you can self-correct further. But presentation feedback doesn’t stop here. The ultimate presentation feedback comes in the next step.
Step 3 — Get presentation feedback from your audience in two ways.
First, while delivering your speech, engage your audience. Look for audience interest. Are they leaning forward or are they nodding off? Do they laugh at your humor or seem puzzled? Do they ask questions or are they fiddling with their Blackberries?
Second, create a presentation feedback sheet. Hand it out to your audience to complete at the end of your presentation. Do not make it too long or your audience will not complete it.
The presentation feedback sheet could have a numeric rating on a scale of 1 to 5 on various aspects of your delivery and content. Include some subjective questions; asking them what they liked most about your talk and how you could have made it better.
Be sure to ask them if you met or even exceeded their expectations of your presentation. Ask them what else they would like to see in the presentation if you were to give it again.
Review the presentation feedback sheets to see if a recurring pattern emerges, or if there is even one good idea to make your presentation more beneficial. You will get an insightful perspective for improvement, and your audience will appreciate that you value their opinion.
So use our 3-step approach for getting presentation feedback to improve your presentations. First, self-evaluate. Second, get presentation feedback from people you trust. And third, ask your audience for presentation feedback.
Remember, the basis for self-improvement is a goal. But you need to have a fix on your starting point to know what you must do to achieve success. You must baseline where you are.
That’s what presentation feedback does for you. It tells you how you are doing and how much more you have to improve, if any, to reach your goal. As Ken Blanchard said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
Let us know how you get presentation feedback in the Comments area below.
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