Naturally, giving a presentation is a skill that falls on the professional side of the spectrum. It involves a lot of formality along with practice to get good at it.
But how do you decide what exactly it is that you need to work on? Read on to find out about six ways to evaluate your presentation skills.
Evaluating your presentation requires the ability to analyze your performance based on some very specific criteria related to delivery and content. More importantly, you must do it in an objective sense, without letting your self-bias come in the way.
Importance and benefits of evaluating your presentations yourself
Public speaking requires skills that are developed over time. Whether you’re a pro at it or a beginner, there is always room to grow because people have a varying set of abilities.
Presentations are all about influence. You aim to create a dynamic with your audience so they buy into whatever it is that you’re trying to convey.
And if you keep innovating your techniques and find your strength (which all comes with self-evaluating), you’ll essentially be enhancing your power to influence.
In addition to that, it makes you a better presenter. The lack of being told what to do by someone else gives you a sense of self-confidence and patience.
Additionally, you being a good presenter would mean more successful meetings, which in turn means you’d profit your business.
Basically, the better your presentation, the more likely are your chances to successfully fulfill your agenda. So grab a paper and a pen and embark upon your journey of getting better!
What criteria do I need to follow for evaluation?
Let’s address the skills we need for pulling off a good presentation.
- Quality of content
- Engagement with audience
- Visual aids
- Focusing on strengths.
Based on these categories, you need to form criteria to test yourself. Think of it like setting a frame of reference for yourself, placing yourself on a scale ranging between good and bad would help you track your progress.
Following are the pointers you need to keep in mind while evaluating your presentation skills-
The two most things to keep in mind about structure is that you need to have a very intriguing start to your presentation, something that hooks the audience. (an anecdote, perhaps)
Secondly, make sure your ending is clear and in alignment with the purpose of the presentation. And include a call to action. For example, if your presentation is about mental health awareness, make sure one of your end slides has a comprehensive contact list of psychologists/therapists.
Apart from that, the transitions between your pointers have to be smooth. Try adding segues (which is basically building context for your next point) In the previous example, a personal anecdote involving someone with depression can be a good segue to talk about the importance of mental health.
If you’re new to structuring content or making presentations, here’s an article of ours that might help- The Ultimate Guide to Structuring a Speech
Delivery is everything. From gestures to hand movements, your body language must emphasize CONVEYING something.
When you say something especially important, there must be some emphasis on part of your delivery. Like slowing your speech, or knocking the table, or repetition of the point, etc.
There should be some sort of continuity to your narrative, the ‘flow’ must come naturally. This can be done using the smooth transition technique mentioned above.
Adding a story-like quality to your speech might help. (having proper segregation between the beginning, middle, and end)
Quality of content
You cannot be providing generic content. Always remember, in presentations, quality surpasses quantity.
Rambling about your topic on and on would not only bore your audience but also hinder the aforementioned flow and transitions that are so important.
You need to make sure you’re adding something of value that is unique to you, and not general. You may refer to our article that might help further with this- Should a Presentation Have an Agenda?
Engagement with the audience
Your content must always be altered according to your audience. Knowing your audience is a very crucial step. You cannot say the same things in front of an MNC board meeting members as you would in front of a bunch of college students.
Knowing your audience helps you decide your content, flow, transition, practically everything.
Also, engagement with the audience means the interaction that takes place between you and them. You need to appear approachable for them to talk to you.
But at the same time, you need to prepare yourself in advance to be able to answer the questions that might come your way. A little prediction here and there can save you a lot of anxiety.
Visual aids during a presentation include everything from the design and arrangement of content in your presentation to your appearance. (But mostly the former)
Now when it comes to visual aids in a PPT, there is no better advice than the 5 by 5 rule.
The Powerpoint 5×5 slide rule states that-
a. Each of your slides should have no more than 5 lines.
b. Each of those lines should have no more than 5 words.
It ensures keeping your content crisp and to the point. A tip to apply this rule would be to not focus on including the main content in the ppt. Instead, write only pointers and elaborate on them yourself.
This way, you prevent your audience from getting too caught up in reading the slides hence getting distracted from you.
How exactly do I evaluate my presentation?
Here are the six-pointers that will guide you through it step-by-step.
Keeping in mind the above-mentioned pointers, start looking for what you’re doing wrong.
Is there something that you repetitively keep doing wrong? Maybe the topics you choose aren’t relevant, maybe you use too much text in slides, maybe you don’t captivate your audience by raising vocals, maybe you don’t move enough.
There are always patterns. You need to develop attention to detail.
Focus on the audience
Your audience engagement can make or break the deal. While you’re presenting, make sure you make eye contact with as many people as you can. And keep an eye out for people’s reactions. It helps you get real-time feedback.
Now there’s a chance this might not work and you get distracted or disheartened. In which case, drop this tactic. Nothing is worth blowing your confidence down during the presentation.
Part of the reward for good audience engagement is honest feedback. If people like your content but find your delivery a little off, if you engage well with them, they will be a little more open to bringing it to your attention.
Maybe to make it a little more certain, announce at the end that you’re open to constructive criticism. It also adds to the impression you make. People find people who are willing to admit their flaws, admirable.
Make sure you maintain a record of your progress, right from making those criteria scales to your speeches through successive presentations. You could do it on paper or a device, whatever is more comfortable.
Make notes about what you need to work on right after presentations, and tick them off when you do in the next ones. It brings along a sense of accomplishment.
In reference to keeping track of practicing, you may check out our 13 Tips For Rehearsing A Presentation
Objective set of eyes
Ask a friend or a colleague to give you honest advice. Truth is, no matter what, your clients would always be skeptical of telling you what’s wrong. And there’s only so much you would criticize about yourself.
Asking someone you trust can help you get a fresh perspective on your progress since we get a little over in our heads sometimes.
Use your strengths and weaknesses
After having acquainted yourself with this whole system of evaluation, it is no doubt you’d be very aware of your strong and weak points. It is a good thing.
Honestly, there could always be some little things here and there that we cannot wrap our heads around, and that’s okay. Because we also have our strengths to cover up for them.
For example, you could be a little off with a smooth transition between subpoints, but if you drop a super-strong call to action, in the end, it gets compensated.
And the best part is, only you can use them to your benefit since you’re the only one who knows about them!
Additionally, watching content related to your topic can be of massive help too. For example, if your speech is on mental health , then maybe watching a TEDTalk by a mental health professional can add on to the authenticity of your content.
To go that extra mile, you could also record yourself while giving the speech in front of a camera and review the recording to see where exactly you went wrong. Sometimes, watching your presentation from the audience’s perspective gives you a peak into what they see, and consequently, allows you to have a bigger impact on them.
Here’s a checklist to keep in mind while self-evaluating:
Print the checklist out for easy accessibility, mark yes or no after every presentation to keep track of your progress.
|Pointers for Structure||YES||NO|
|My speech has a well-segregated beginning, middle, and end|
|I have prepared anecdotes, jokes, and other segues for smooth transition between sub-topics|
|My speech flow has a story like quality to it|
|I have a strong conclusion summarising the points along with a call to action followed by it|
|Pointers for Preparation||YES||NO|
|I have rehearsed this speech at least thrice before presenting (either in front of a mirror or with a friend)|||||
|I know what my audience is looking forward to|
|I have taken into account the feedback from the previous presentation|
|I have made a bunch of notecards with sub-topics and pointers to help me remember my speech, just in case (backup)|
|Pointers for Content||YES||NO|
|My content is relevant to the purpose of this presentation|
|My presentation is rich with visual aids like pictures, videos, and gifs (optional)|
|I have a strong introduction to grip the audience from the get-go|
|My content is well-researched and not generic|
|Pointers for Delivery||YES||NO|
|Maintaining eye-contact and adequate facial expressions|
|Use of purposeful body movement|
|I move from one sub-topic to another with ease|
|I am appropriately dressed according to the place and audience of the presentation|
Practical Tools to use for self-evaluation
Feedback from your audience is important, as stated before. However, you can’t store all of the verbal feedback in your brain, let alone use it for self-evaluation later. Moreover, sometimes the audience might be vague with how they respond and that is unhelpful.
What you can do, instead, is devise a feedback form enlisting specific questions, the answers to which would be relevant for your purpose. This not only lifts the burden of remembering all you heard after presenting, but also eliminates unnecessary jargon from the audience.
Self-reflection is the most important part of this process. Now, this does not only involve you going to the feedback forms but also reviewing specific areas that you need extra work on. You can make a categorized list or a scale of easily ‘fixable issues’ to issues that need relatively more practice and work.
If there is an issue that you don’t seem to be able to work around, another form of self-reflection you can do is record yourself. As mentioned before, use the camera and present as you would in the conference room. Looking at a tape of yourself after presenting(as opposed to while presenting in front of the mirror), can help you detect what’s wrong in a better way. Plus, it helps you check body language.
Presentation rubrics are one of the handiest tools you can use for evaluation. It is a specific set of criteria that sets qualitative standards for the things/skills you need to have in your presentation to qualify as a good one.
For example, For a college research paper, the categories of criteria would be creativity, research element, use of sources and references, innovative aspects, etc. These categories would then be assessed on a scale of good to excellent or 1 to 5 and be marked accordingly.
It provides a quantified version of assessment which helps tremendously to analyze where specifically, and how much do you need to work on.
Apart from this, if you’re a techno-savvy person who is not inclined to write with a journal to keep track or implicate any of the other tools, worry not! We happen to have just the thing to help you! In today’s technology and smart phone driven world where most things are online, we can do self-evaluation up there too!
Here is a detailed and comprehensive article about 34 Best Smartphone Apps for Presenters and Professional Speakers that will guide you through that process.
Well, with all these tools and techniques, you’re all set to begin your self-evaluation! Remember, different techniques work for different people. It’s all a matter of trial and error. Some patience and practice can take you a long way to become the presenter you aspire to be.