How Do You Measure Presentation Effectiveness?
The Presentation Excellence Group spends substantial time helping CEOs and other executives evaluate outcome and process measures to increase the effectiveness of leadership, alignment of staff with key cultural values and corporate mission, execution of strategy, etc. People responsible for the development and delivery of presentations should also judge their effectiveness.
For instance, many of the people who come to us for presentation skills improvement, judge themselves to be the problem and are prepared to do whatever it takes to address it. Upon closer analysis, we discover that they work harder-than-necessary to overcome weaknesses inherent in their presentation material. As a result of this shift in attention, they lose confidence in their delivery skills and don’t spend as much time focusing on really understanding clients’ needs and delivery a presentation that resonates with the audience.
Accordingly, we thought we’d share a few areas that presentation teams might want to evaluate and then improve in order to deliver more presentations producing the desired impact.
- Sell the Product/Service. If the goal was to sell the audience on buying a product/service/idea and they took the specific actions after your presentation, then you succeeded. As noted on our website, Presentation Excellence was started when a company, with a 92% closing rate, called to find out how its presentations could be improved.
- A Compelling Argument. Was the case you presented a solid, powerful slam-dunk or was confusing, unpersuasive and weak? How persuasively did you present it? Did you leave them convinced about the wisdom of their decision, ambivalent or so hesitant that they asked for more time and information before making the decision?
- Positive Relationship Attitudes. The manner in which you positioned your personal expertise, the company’s experiences and the nature of the relationships with buyers in general will affect how they perceive you going forward and their willingness to work with you. Some dimensions that might apply include:
- How does the buyer perceive you in terms of your competence and confidence?
- What’s the nature of the relationship between your firm and the buyer’s when the deal closed? Are you now an Approved Vendor, a Preferred Supplier, a Solutions Consultant, a Strategic Contributor, or a Trusted Partner? Clearly the difference between these options will have a dramatic impact on how the client treats you at delivery the goods and afterwards. It also affects referral rates. In other words, winning isn’t everything!
- Efficient Use of Preparation Resources. How much time and energy – by you and others - went into producing the presentation? Is it acceptable? Could less time and effort been used by more effectively organizing and centralizing the material, such as pictures, graphics, charts, etc. Would templates have made the situation easier?
- High Presenter Confidence. How did the presenter feel as a result of drafting and finalizing material? Did he/she feel it was a compelling case that he/she could confidently and competently present? Could templates be customized easily to meet the client’s unique needs or was he/she forced to use a canned presentation which meant compromising on power and effectiveness?
- Effective Use of Context and Media. Did the presentation take place at a time and place which were conducive to effective decision-making, or were they distractive and even counterproductive (e.g., after lunch meetings in uncomfortably hot rooms). Was the medium (e.g., large room, small room, virtual) conducive to quality interactions and Q&A?
Meet Your Audience's Needs
In addition to helping executives win deals and impress audiences on their “brilliance”, I sometimes coach a debating team. I teach them the same principles that I share with you, since their goal is similar – just it doesn’t end in their winning contracts worth millions of dollars.
The better you know your audience, the better your chance at winning. As noted in prior newsletter articles, it’s important to know the mindset of your specific judges. Are the goal or process oriented; do they value experience more than innovation or vice-versa? This means you need to research your judges before coming to the presentation. If not possible, at the beginning of the presentation introduce yourselves and get to know what’s important to them. In a split decision, it’s just one judge’s vote that, if switched, could makethe whole difference.
Here’s an example. The high school debating circuit generally has three types of judges:
Former students who now donate time for judging; parents; and the "circuit" judges, people who have experience as judges and participate in many events each year. Over time, we’ve discovered each has a different perspective:
Former students focus on how powerfully each team projects itself as a winner while following the rules. In other words – is the team displaying the type of energy and excellence that was expected from them in addressing each issue.
- Parents let their parental values enter the equation – and the debaters displaying proper form and etiquette. An overly aggressive team would lose points (while they might not lose them from the former students). If a single issue emotionally bothers them, it may outweigh the actual facts presented and sway the decision.
- Experienced judges focus on weighing each of the arguments’ points and counterpoints and reaching summative scores. They are more critical of made-up statistics and non-supportive arguments.
Still, the best way to meet the needs of an audience is to understand how they judged in prior rounds. For instance, one judge awarded wins to almost every team taking the Pro position; thus, future teams, when given the chance, chose to take that position. Some judges are swayed by FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) factors; others want concrete evidence. While the presentation/debate goes on, watch the judges just in case their body language gives away how they are reacting.
In sum, whenever possible, try to identify your audience’s priorities and biases, and then tailor your presentation to meet them. All things being equal, that information may just give you the winning edge!