In Part I, we focused on how to prepare to deliver a successful presentation. We chose a presentation as the example, but anyone can apply this process to any action. In this article we will assume the presentation is over, and you, the presenter, want to use it as a vehicle for improved performance – no matter how successful this presentation was.
Step 3 of the preparation (in Part I) defined what successful presentation performance looks like. That is where the review begins. The review is not about “the outcome of the presentation” it is about what you actually did, so you can repeat and improve on actions, words, thoughts and behaviors, to make your next presentation (or other action) even better.
The point is that, as the presenter, you must own your own successful behaviors as well as the not so successful ones. Another person’s opinion will not internalize things. You may agree or disagree with someone else’s opinion – what matters is what you think about what you did.
Decide on acceptable scores for each of your actions. Is 8 out of 10 good enough, or should you be scoring your performance 10 out of 10? You decide.
The Review Steps
1. Take each element of Step 3. The first element was “Show my own enthusiasm for the project.” So review what you did and said through the presentation, discussion and wrap-up that actually showed your own enthusiasm to the attendees.
2. List what you did that worked well, and score each item on the list. Let’s say you were welcoming, smiled as you spoke, made direct eye contact with each attendee when they spoke to you, used their words when you wrote down their points for future discussion, used positive words when you emphasized your points, etc.
3. Now list what you could have done better. Notice this point is not “List what went wrong, what failed, what you regret, etc.” It is what you could have done better. Very few presentation actions are complete failures.
Let’s take two simple examples to make the point. Let’s say you felt your enthusiasm slowed after the half-way mark. It didn’t really spoil the presentation, you still got the contract or your team still bought into the idea, but you could have been better. You just started to run out of steam, so you score your overall enthusiasm as a 6.
Now you can focus on what you could do next time to get your enthusiasm up to an 8 or a 10. Should you call a break half way through, so they can handle their phone calls (and you can relax for five minutes) or should you pace yourself more evenly by going at a steadier rate? Your presentation, your actions, your decision.
Let’s say there were a lot of questions about one of the topics, so you score yourself as an 8 for clarity. What would you need to change to make yourself perfectly clear, so you get fewer needless questions, and so you can give yourself a 10?
4. Now write down what you have just learned about pacing yourself, maintaining your enthusiasm, maximizing clarity, etc. This list is about the presentation you just delivered. So how can you use these learning points for all future presentations?
When you know what you learned, you have internalized it, so it will become a normal aspect of your presentation skills in future.
5. Finally, based on what you did well, what you could have done better, and what you learned, you can decide what you will do next time. When you do those things next time, you will deliver a better presentation. Repeat the process, and over time, your presentations will be perfect.
To use a sporting example, it is called the Angelo Dundee Technique. When Muhammad Ali threw a less than perfect punch, Angelo Dundee never said “That was a bad punch.” He would say “That was a good uppercut; how could you improve on it?” And Ali would think about what he did, how he did it, and decide how he could have stood differently, balanced himself differently, etc, so his uppercuts became perfect.
Internalize the little things, the critical things, the things you can control, and your overall performance will get better and better. Instead of thinking about the whole presentation, you will focus on each “uppercut”. You will do little things better, so the 5s and 7s, will become 6s and 8s, then 9s and 10s.
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