Recently, I was given an opportunity to present in front of a group of seasoned professionals from various industries. The focus of my presentation was to inform them about my new business, to tell them a little bit more about myself and then I also decided to offer them some advice on social media management (isn’t the main questions of anybody in the audience always “What’s in it for me?”)
However, this presentation was a little bit different than any other I have given before because it was strictly timed and everybody in the audience was filling out an evaluation sheet. I am happy to say that all went well and that the feedback was very positive, although with a few details that I can improve on.
So I thought I would share 10 things that the audience in general looks for and judges on (besides the traditional structure of a presentation).
1. First impression
This includes your body language, outfit and composure. Are you making any eye contact with the audience? Did you get the audience’s attention?
Is it clear or is it uneven and it feels like “something is missing”? Is it focused on the message you are trying to convey?
Does your presentation flow smoothly, or is it choppy?
Have an agenda but don’t read it like a script – make it flow and make it feel as you’re speaking from the heart. Be prepared to do some “free-styling” if needed. For example, if you just experienced something that is not in the script, but you feel is relevant to the presentation, find a way to include it…
Is it appropriate and professional, or is it too technical? Perhaps too basic?
Are you using good examples? Are there too many or too few?
Use examples of the success you had and the benefits your clients got.
6. Visual Aids
Are they good and relevant, badly prepared (which can actually be a distraction), or are they even necessary?
If you are having handouts for the audience, there are two different thoughts on how to distribute them. Some people prefer to hand them out prior while others after the speech. The argument is that the audience should be listening to you and not read. However, the first group of people says that the handouts help them to follow and give them some additional information. Anyhow, if there are few pieces (flyer, brochure, business card) it’s always good to put them all in one organized package.
Again, are you “well balanced”, too enthusiastic or are missing the enthusiasm (body language, pitch of the voice, smile or a pickle face)?
Smile and eye contact convey confidence and that’s what retains audience’s attention. Be prepared to react according to the audience’s reaction (do you have to take it down a notch, or do you have to add to it?)
8. Time Budget
Is presentation well timed, too crowded or are you wasting time? If you have a set amount of time, stay within the time frame and also ask if Q&A time is included, or budgeted separately…
Were there any verbal or physical distractions?
See #6 Visual Aids
10. Did you “make the sale”?
Just like with any other thing in life, with practice comes excellence – so don’t be shy or afraid but embrace the challenge instead.