Even those who excel at their jobs can always find room for improvement and growth. We all have strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t know what your weaknesses are, you will never overcome them. You may think you are really great at something, but others may perceive this differently.
You need to obtain feedback from your audience for two distinct reasons. First, you need feedback to make sure that your audience is hearing and understanding your message. Second, you need feedback to help you do a better job on your next presentation.
To ensure that everyone is hearing and understanding you, maintain eye contact with your audience and invite questions.
Use eye contact
The only way to know how the members of your audience are responding to you is to look at them. If the entire back row has fallen asleep, they probably can’t hear you. If members of the audience have turned their attention to their calendars or to the stack of reading materials they brought with them, you have lost their attention and will have to do something to regain it.
Let your audience know in advance whether you prefer to receive questions at the end of the presentation or as you go along. Some speakers think that in formal situations, questions should be held until the end—or at least until the end of logical units. The concern is that questions may interrupt the flow of the presentation. In general, however, questions are best asked when they occur so that they can be related to the topic being discussed.
When someone has a question, others probably have the same question, which suggests a need for clarification. If a question anticipates a point that you will be addressing later in the presentation, you can ask the person to hold the question until that point by saying something like, “That’s a good question, and I will be addressing that issue in a few minutes. I’d appreciate it if you’d ask your question at that time.”
To take feedback for the second objective of doing a better job with your next presentation, do the following:
Analyze the audience’s questions
Keep track of the questions the members of your audience ask, and then revise your presentation to ensure that you provide better coverage of the topics they asked about during your next presentation.
When it’s appropriate for you to do so, request an evaluation of your presentation by your supervisor or a trusted colleague. In sales situations, you can often ask for and receive feedback from one or more of the people to whom you presented after they have made the decision about whether to buy from you.
Remember that the feedback does you no good unless you act on what you have learned. Not every comment you receive will be valid, but if four or five people tell you that you need to speak more slowly or more quickly, you would do well to change the pace of your delivery.