Deep down we all know when something just isn't right. Generally our intuition is a pretty good indicator. When preparing for virtual presentations, we should use this same intuition as a guide for the content we will deliver. Many times we prepare for presentations with our main thought being, "What am I going to say?" With this thought in mind, we then string together a litany of words hoping to provide our audience with enough stories or data to make our message convincing.
Just as in virtual presentations, in-person presentations have some of the same challenges. Many of us aren't blessed with getting honest feedback from our colleagues and friends. As you well know, feedback is a scary premise for most people because it involves the possibility of someone's feelings getting hurt. I once received feedback on a presentation that traveled from a person I was working with through a number of channels and then to me after three weeks had passed.
The problem with this was that I had given that presentation three more times during those three weeks. Some quick feedback could have made a big difference for me. This is similar to a situation where a friend or colleague has spinach on their teeth after a meal. Do you tell them or do you pretend it's not there? You know what I'm talking about.
One of the keys to making better virtual and in-person presentations is self-awareness. The challenge is that many of us cannot detect our own “ums”, “uhs”, monotone voice or low energy. We also have a hard time editing ourselves which leads to an overload of detail that the listener may not care about. It's further compounded by the external feedback conundrum that I mentioned earlier. As a result, we are left to figure it out on our own or “find our own spinach”.
Here are some indicators that will help you know that you need to make a change to your presentation. Ask yourself these five questions:
Did I talk for long stretches with no listener interaction?
Do my slides have too many words for my audience to actually READ while I'm talking?
Were my slides static? Did I use annotation tools to highlight and circle important points?
Did it take longer than the first two or three minutes of the presentation to get to the point?
Did I read every word on the slide rather than adding value to the words that are there?
We all want to make a good impression when we speak, both at work and in our community. In order to be truly effective, take some time for self-assessment. If you ask for feedback from others, be specific. Use the questions above as a starting point and make sure to ask the feedback giver to be specific in response to those questions.