Did you tell them that the audience already knew most of what they covered, that their slides were boring, that you struggled to relate the content to the title, that their presenting style lacked colour or conviction?
Or did you do the ‘British thing’ and say, ‘it was great, everyone really enjoyed it!’?
And what about after the last presentation you delivered. Did you ask for feedback from people you chatted with afterwards?
What did they tell you?
Did you believe them?
Did it help?
If we want to get better we want two things: honest feedback, and constructive suggestions for what we can do better. The feedback shouldn’t seek to change everything but identify small changes and and marginal gains.
Instant feedback is rarely helpful - the timing is just wrong. Far better to sit down with a presenter sometime after the event and review the overall session and then work down towards the specific presentation. Ask some questions about how they felt it went, what did they think worked well, and what could be improved.
Did they believe they achieved their objectives (having first asked if they had set any in the first place). Ask how they might have felt if they had been in the audience looking at and listening to the presentation.
Watching a recording can be highly revealing - the camera doesn’t lie and is always an objective viewer!
Within the post session meeting the concept of business and sports personnel constantly seeking marginal improvements in their performance is normally helpful. It’s a technique people will probably employ in their business and in developing their leadership skills - so why not on presenting?
There’s a big difference between the feedback that makes us feel good and feedback that helps us improve. Where you look for feedback will depend on what you want.
If you want to be comforted and reassured go for the instant informal audience comment. If you want to be a better presenter, talk to me. I can also give you the feedback before you deliver your next presentation so that the experience is a more rewarding one for everyone.
Hugh Graham, firstname.lastname@example.org