Presentation Skills: 5 Ways to Measure Your Success as a Presenter

You give the big sales presentation, management briefing, or all-hands overview. And then you wait to see how you did. Smiles or frowns? Thunderous or polite applause? Objections or nods of agreement? Speakers often leave a presentation with a mixed perception of what went well and what needs improvement.

Clients frequently come to us for coaching in presentation skills. But when we probe by asking them about their goals… or evaluations on past presentations, clients often seem puzzled. They really don’t know what they do well or where they need help. Either they themselves or someone else has simply made them aware that their skills are lacking.

Specifics escape them. Yet, they’re investing substantial dollars to correct a problem they haven’t identified. So you may want to consider these 5 ways to measure your own success as a presenter before you call in a coach. Take, for example, your last presentation:

1: What was the outcome? Did you motivate the listener to take action? Sign off on the project? Approve the budget? Buy your product or service? Support your cause? Cooperate with your initiative?

2: Did you build a strong case? Okay, so maybe you can’t control ALL the circumstances and, thus, your presentation isn’t solely responsible for action or decision. But given circumstances outside your control, did you build a strong case? Did you receive feedback from the audience that you made a strong case, and that had it not been for “other circumstances,” they would have acted favorably? If so, a good measure of an effective presentation is a strong structure-a persuasive case.

3: Did you advance your career? Did you improve others’ perception of you and your abilities? How well did you deliver the presentation? Maybe the statistics did not lend themselves to a strong argument. Maybe the timing was wrong for a favorable decision. Maybe the competitors had a technological advantage. But did you tell your story in the best light possible–that is, with substance and style? You may have ended the meeting with a “no” decision, but increased your value in the eyes of others in the audience? Will your skill displayed in this presentation position you for further advancement?

4: Did you decrease your preparation time without losing peak performance? Was your preparation time excessive? Consider your general process. You do have a step-by-step process, right? To be an effective presenter, productivity should always be a concern.

5: Did you improve your personal best? Just like marathoners who often compete against their personal best rather than against competitors, how did you feel about the presentation? Confident rather than nervous? Did you use all the techniques at your disposal to clarify key points such as quotations, analogies, metaphors, mnemonics? Did your time-management and facilitation skills enable you to include all the key points you intended? Was the audience fully engaged? How do you know? As with writing,.. racing,… or raising money,… presentations-both outcome and process– deserve analysis. Take a few minutes to evaluate yours. The key to continual improvement is continual evaluation.

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