Just how effective are your presentation skills — have you asked?

Have you recieved feedback on your presentation skills?

To be able to truly develop ourselves as public speakers, presenters and leaders the one thing we all need a great deal more of is feedback.

30 years ago, as a young manager, I thought I knew it all. I was climbing the corporate ladder faster than a speeding bullet and everything was going my way; or at least I’d convinced myself it was.

One day, out of nowhere the CEO got really excited about a new idea that had just hit town; the entire management team should participate in something called 360 degree feedback. In my youth and arrogance I jumped at the opportunity to see the evidence for myself from my boss, peers and all of the staff working with me telling me just how brilliant I really was.

I couldn’t wait; what could possibly go wrong?

You can guess what came next…

To my dismay I learned that I was not regarded by some others as quite as amazing as I had perceived myself.

I came crashing back to earth with a hard and long overdue bump. It was made very clear to me that a few things had to change; quite a few, in fact.

I needed to make a few serious adjustments to my management style, thinking, and leadership.

As painful as the experience was, I can honestly hold that daunting process up as one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my career. It’s now one I embrace and repeat frequently to learn the truth; get myself a reality check and get back on the right track.

The lesson was invaluable as a development tool and is equally so today as a a business owner and presentation skills coach.

If you are genuinely interested in developing your presentation skills, take the time to ask people to tell you what they think. A few times each year, after you’ve presented, find a few people you trust and respect. Ask them to do you a huge favour and share their perspective on your presentation skills. Tell them they can do it anonymously as part of a group if they prefer or they can just tell you directly.

Give them your complete assurance that you really do want to know. Make them a promise that you can handle anything they say.

If you can’t make that assurance and promise to them please don’t ask them.

The one thing you want from them is absolute honesty.

Here a few questions you may wish to get answers to:

– What was your first impression when I began presenting, i.e. within the first 5 minutes?

– Was my message really clear and if so what was it?

– What did you think of my presentation skills, i.e. posture, gestures, eye contact, vocal variety, movement, etc.?

– What did you think of the way I supported my message through the use of, explanations, examples, illustrations, statistics, analogies, stories and anecdotes?

– What did you think of the visual aids I used (if appropriate). Did they support the effectiveness of the presentation or detract from it?

– How did I make you feel while presenting and when I finished speaking?

Was everything I shared of relvance and value to you?

– What do you remember from my presentation which was of value to you and help you in some way?

What difference did my presentation make to you in terms of making your life better, easier, happier or improved in some way?

– What part of the presentation needs the most improvement and how would you suggest I achieve this?

– If you would change anything at all about my presentation skills, what would that be?

This is of course a very difficult exercise; it is not one for the faint of heart.

It takes great courage to ask and be open to the answers. If it all feels overwhelming or impossible try starting with asking just one of these questions after each presentation you give.

The most important question you could ask is, ‘how did I make you feel?’

There are of course a number of very effective ways to develop your presentation skills.

Book yourself on a presentation skills training course.

Invest in some mindful, one to one public speaking coaching.

Find yourself a powerful public speaking course.

Whatever you do, if you want to take your presentation skills to a whole new level of impact, get some feedback.

If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and public speaking courses pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.

Image courtesy of iStock.com

Author, speaker, trainer, presenter - former corporate executive passionate about personal leadership, people and results.