How Can You Test Your Presentation
How can you test your presentation? How can you test a talk that you have done? Because, unless you are a huge corporation, you cannot typically be hiring focus groups and spending loads of money in this regard. your answer is right there in the audience: you ask them!
What most people do when talking to more than ten people and someone comes up to them to say what a good job they did in the presentation, they simply say thank you and move on. Do not just say thank you! Say thank you, and can you please tell me what you remember, what sticks out, how would you describe what I talked about today to a colleague who was not here, and then really listen.
If all the person says is that you are great, professionals, and interesting, you did not communicate anything. You need to specifically hear the messages you prepared coming out of the mouth of the audience member. They do not have to reiterate your exact words or the order of the messages. But the messages you care about or the stories you planned and delivered are not remembered or recalled by the audience members, then you flunked the test! You did not communicate even if you think you did a good job.
Our goal is not to make people feel that we are a great speaker, our goal is to actually communicate messages and to influence the audience. So that is how you test your speech.
Of course the ultimate test is if the audience does what you want. If you are pitching investors and people come up to you afterwards and give you cheques, you have succeeded. If the investors come to you afterwards and tell you that you are great and amazing but do not actually invest anything, you did not succeed. If you are running for office, and you are asking people to vote for you, but you did not get any votes then you know you have failed to get your message across. Only if you win do you know that you have accomplished what you set out to do.
What Is the Best Way to Write a Presentation
What is the best way to write a presentation? There is an image in popular culture of this person huddled over a computer, with blank sheets of paper, balling things up and throwing them away, spending hours and hours thinking, maybe even smoking cigarettes. In my experience, that is not the best way to start writing a presentation.
The best thing is to sit back, relax, have a blank notepad or a blank computer screen, and just brainstorm on the messages that you think will motivate your audience to do the one thing you want them to do. Do not worry about beautiful sentences or sound bites for the ages, or thing that will captivate people. Just focus on ideas. Brainstorm on all the ideas you can think of for your topic. It can be fragments, just a few words, or just very basic ideas that you want to convey through that presentation.
The best thing is that you can put it to the side and let it sit for a day or two. Let it marinate and play around in your brain. Then come back to it and put them in the order of priority and come up with just your top 5 messages. Then think of an interesting story that fleshes out each one of your messages. A story that involves an actual conversation you had with a client, colleague, or customer about one of these messages. Give yourself a couple of words on a simple outline for that. The next thing would be to take any other facts, numbers, and data points that you really have to have in your presentation.
When you are all done, your written speech, in most situations should fit in one page. It really should be just an outline. I know that if you are a corporate speech writer and the boss says that they want a huge speech you cannot quite do that this way but for most people most of the times, if you are not a professional speech writer for someone else and you are not the President of a country or a finance minister where people are analyzing every word you say, this is the system for writing speeches and presentations that will help most people most of the time. It takes the least amount of time and it gets the best results.
What If You Are Asked a Question and You Don’t Know the Answer
Quite often, when in front of a large group consisting of say a 1000 people, someone will ask you a question. What do you do if you are asked a question and you do not know the answer to it? Isn’t it awful and extremely embarrassing?!
I ask this question to my audiences when I am doing public speaking training if they have experienced this or have seen it happen to someone else, and sure enough, a couple hundred hands will go up. 200 hands out of a 1000 means that it is a real concern.
But then I also ask another question: how many of you have seen a speaker and the speaker was so incredibly boring that you forgot every single thing they said in their speech five minutes after they were done speaking? Almost all 1000 hands go up this time around.
I point that out to get you to focus on the real problem which is that you are so incredibly boring that the audience remembers nothing. The problem of someone asking you a question and you not knowing the answer to is far uncommon than the one mentioned before.
If you do happen to face this situation, the key is to not get flustered and embarrassed. Say that you will get back to them by email or will have a representative get in touch with them with the answer. The audience will not remember you not knowing the answer but they will remember if you act embarrassed.