The next time you’re presenting to a group, leading a meeting, or facilitating a work session, consider some of these ideas. You might ask a trusted colleague to take notes and rate you on the following points.
- Is this about me or about the audience? What does success sound like, look like, and feel like?
- What’s my purpose? What’s my role? Do I believe it and am I willing to check my ego to accomplish it?
- Do I care enough about the audience to schedule and invest time to envision, design, construct, prepare, and actually practice?
- Did I create an agenda, did I ask for input, and did I follow it?
- Have I realistically allotted proper time to the most important topics?
- Did I start and end on the promised time and did I manage the time throughout efficiently?
- Have I timed and paced myself to ensure I don’t take more than my allotted time?
- Am I agile and adept enough for a change in plans, course, or topic? A challenge to my premise, plan, or intended outcome?
- What is it like to listen to me speak? Do “vocalized pauses” (um, uh, you know) distract from the message? (Ask the trusted friend to count how many times you say “um/uh.”)
- Have I invested the effort to learn and employ the correct words, stories, and examples to support my points?
- Do I intentionally and authentically vary my rate, pitch, tone, and volume to emphasize points and sustain engagement?
- Am I comfortable with silence—my own and theirs? When I ask a question, am I disciplined enough to wait for an answer?
- Have I practiced and learned the basics of managing my physical movement? Am I using intentional movement that aligns to my points, wearing a path back and forth on the carpet, or standing stoically in one spot?
- Do I have a plan for holding necessary items or am I juggling and inevitably dropping my props?
- Are my hand/arm movements natural, purposeful, and comfortable, and simply resting at my side when not needed?
- How’s my posture? My physical energy? Eye contact?
- Have I dressed with the presentation in mind?
- Have I taken the time to create a storyline or narrative? Is what I’m saying linear or episodic? Do I have an arch towards something?
- Is my message setting a vision? Are people inspired? Is there both a challenge and resolution (“what is” versus “what could be”)?
- If I am asking for something, did I actually ever ask? If I’m persuading/convincing, did it happen?
- Is what I am telling, showing, proposing, and asking all congruent?
- Am I using a handout? Do people actually need it for the presentation/discussion?
- Do I have a deck? Do I need a deck? Do I need a deck for myself, or for the audience?
- Are my slides well-designed and do they support my story? Are they visually engaging?
- Am I using other media to enhance or distract? Can I do with less? With none? (The answer is always yes.)
- Do I have a plan for inviting others to join in, offer different views, or ask questions?
- Is the audience talking also? Do they need a break…from me?
- Did I ask for feedback? Did I listen to it? Did I accept any of it? Did I change anything as a result of it?
- Did I achieve my purpose?
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