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Measuring the Success of Your PresentationOften when we prepare to speak, we think about the content of our presentation and the delivery, but how often do we think about what needs to happen for our presentation to be a success?

By setting measurable goals, looking beyond traditional feedback tools and developing personal speaking objectives, you’ll be able to judge whether your efforts accomplish what you intend.

Start with a measurable goal.

Within our Toastmasters program we believe that every speech should be a “manual speech.” Each of our manual speeches has a set of objectives for the speaker to achieve. Although every presentation comes with a number of objectives, it is important to identify the reason you are in front of the audience. Are you attempting to persuade, inspire, entertain or merely inform your listeners?

Perhaps you have been asked to give a presentation to help reduce stress or boost morale. Pin down the central purpose of your presentation and write it in a single statement. Now take it one step further and write down what will be different when the goal has been achieved.

Question the feedback you receive.

When you present a manual speech at a Toastmasters club you will be given feedback in the form of an oral presentation as well as written comments. Your evaluator should be using the speech manual objectives as their guidelines. After they make their oral presentation, take the time to read what they have written but take it one step further by discussing your presentation with them. If you have questions about their comments or need further clarification, just ask them. It is important to remember that your evaluator is also honing their communication and evaluation skills and are presenting their opinion on your presentation based on their perspective, not that of an expert.

For additional feedback you can query other members of the audience as to how they think that you did.

What if you are making a presentation to a non-Toastmasters audience? Evaluation or feedback sheets are often provided for the audience to complete upon conclusion of your presentation. Some experts would recommend that you take these feedback sheets with a grain of salt. A problem with typical evaluation forms is that they often measure the wrong things and, as a result, your audience may not provide you with the meaningful feedback that you need to improve your presentation. As an example, does the evaluation sheet ask the audience to identify the three main points of your presentation or any reference to content retention? Or does it merely require them to indicate if they enjoyed your presentation without identifying specific areas for improvement?

If you plan to use a feedback sheet, design it yourself. Does it ask the right questions? Will it provide you with the answers you need to judge your measurable goals?

Develop Your Own Criteria

As speakers we are all at different levels of skill development. Another way of measuring your presentation success is by defining your personal presentation goals. Are you an experienced speaker or a novice? As a beginner, one indicator of success may simply be a lack of visible shaking or other nervous mannerisms. For the more experienced, you can strive to expect more of yourself. Perhaps the success of your presentation may be based on the number of creative risks that you were willing to take.

Self reflection is a valuable method of improving your presentation skills. How do you feel that your presentation went? Did the audience get the point? Did they ask questions? What would you do differently?

Feedback can be a valuable component of improving your communication skills in identifying problem areas and suggesting techniques to improve. As in any journey, you can only reach your destination by following a route or a map. Creating a series of achievable goals can help you reach that destination a lot quicker.

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