Performance Reviews – they are worth a speaker’s time

Thanks to a class I am taking through the National Speaker Association, I have returned to the practice of asking for feedback at the conclusion of each of my presentations. NSA highly suggests using a form of evaluation, suggesting we speakers craft our own form with the intent to get specific feedback beyond a rating or checklist.

Usually I know the tone these evaluations will take by the time I am 2-3 minutes into my presentation, let alone by the time I close. What I don’t know is the specifics. And that’s what matters. Sure, evaluations can affirm our sense of value, yet they can also offer insight with suggestions designed to encourage and expand our ideas.

For instance, last month I presented It’s Your Business to Speak to a private group. This was the third time I had presented this topic and I didn’t take the time to consider a key difference in the audiences. I had not taken into account the power structure of the audience, so I handled the presentation the same way I had with public ones on the same topic. What I learned was there was less willingness to speak up in front of peers and/or authority on topics that allow our vulnerabilities to show up.

Since the same demographic in public responded well, I expected the same interaction in the private group. But it didn’t happen. As a result, some suggestions were offered through the evaluations to keep the interaction flow consistent, one being allowing more small group interaction. I really needed to hear these suggestions. I know there will be more private presentations on this topic and now I can apply the suggestions to test the results.

Today I gave Breaking Down Barriers to Emotional Intelligence to a private group and tested the use of group interaction. It was a hit! The evaluations spoke to the presentation delivery and small group involvement, among other strategies I employed. The only complaint was my program was too short!

Collecting performance evaluations after we speak to groups gives us a chance to improve, to appear audience-centric and to stay interested in the impact we make. Many times meeting planners give their attendees a chance to evaluate presenters, but we speakers can take initiative in

  • seeking what worked
  • what suggestions the attendees have and
  • what take-aways they leave with

We’re all the better for it.

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On February 29th, 2012, posted in: feedback, speaking by