Measure your presentation impact|

Like you, I have sat through thousands of presentations and the majority have been mediocre at best. Reflecting on this the other day I started to wonder how much of our own time, and that of our staff , businesses were wasting due to poor presentations? How often do we assume that our staff or clients understand and are able to act on information just because it has been “presented” to them? Presentations should have a clear purpose and not just be a time filling activity.

George Bernard Shaw said “The most dangerous thing about communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. I believe that far few businesses bother to assess presentation effectiveness and so have no idea whether what they present and how they present is beneficial or just a monumental waste of time.

One of my clients bucked this trend. They were hosting a conference for 500 managers and they wanted to find out how effective each of their presenters were. So they issued all the delegates with a score sheet and asked them to rate each speaker after their presentation. The results were analysed and they found that, whilst some of their directors were scoring highly, a few were not.

Now they had the evidence to back up their suspicions and put in place a programme up up the game of the poor performers.

The cost of this intervention was less than £5K but the benefits were huge.

So what criteria did they use to assess their presenters? Nothing complicated, just a 1-10 rating scale and 5 simple criteria.

  • How relevant was the presenter’s content to you personally?
  • How knowledgeable did you think the presenter was?
  • How helpful were the presenters visual aids?
  • How engaging was the presenter?
  • How clear are you about what you need to do as a result of listening to this presentation?

I am not saying that these are the best criteria but they are a start.

If you organise conferences or events be they open or in house, do you currently assess your speakers effectiveness?

And if you do, how do you do it? Go on, share your ideas here.


The Presentation Doctor

Photograph courtesy of flicker aussiegirl



  1. Richard I. Garber on 23/02/2012 at 17:07


    Back in 1990 the US National Communication Association devised The Competent Speaker Speech Evaluation Form. It has eight competencies (four each on content and delivery). The 2nd edition of their detailed publication about it from 2007 can be downloaded as an 47-page Acrobat .pdf file at the Assessment Resources page on their web site by just clicking on the title. Just go to:

    I just posted about it on my blog:


    • Gavin Meikle on 23/02/2012 at 17:15

      Thanks for sharing this Richard. It looks a well structured and comprehensive assessment tool.
      My only concern is that it is probably a bit too detailed for use as an initial audience assessment tool in a conference setting. After all the ultimate test of a presentation is whether the audience are engaged and “get it”. However, having used a “quick and dirty” tool, such as the one my client used to identify that there was an issue. A more detailed assessment such as the one you have shared is ideal for identifying what is the root cause of the problem.

      Best Wishes, Gavin

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