Evaluating Business Presentations: A Six Point Presenter Skills Assessment Checklist

Posted by Belinda Huckle  |  On April 18, 2024  |  In Presentation Training, Tips & Advice

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For many business people, speaking in front of clients, customers, their bosses or even their own large team is not a skill that comes naturally. So it’s likely that within your organisation, and indeed within your own team, you’ll find varying levels of presenting ability. Without an objective way to assess the presenter skills needed to make a good presentation, convincing someone that presentation coaching could enhance their job performance (benefiting your business), boost their promotion prospects (benefiting their career) and significantly increase their self confidence (benefiting their broader life choices) becomes more challenging.

Businessman delivering a great presentation

So, how do you evaluate the presenting skills of your people to find out, objectively, where the skill gaps lie? Well, you work out your presentation skills evaluation criteria and then measure/assess your people against them. 

To help you, in this article we’re sharing the six crucial questions we believe you need to ask to not only make a professional assessment of your people’s presenting skills, but to showcase what makes a great presentation. We use them in our six-point Presenter Skills Assessment checklist (which we’re giving away as a free download at the end of this blog post). The answers to these questions will allow you to identify the presenter skills strengths and weaknesses (i.e. skills development opportunities) of anyone in your team or organisation, from the Managing Director down. You can then put presenter skills training or coaching in place so that everyone who needs it can learn the skills to deliver business presentations face-to-face, or online with confidence, impact and purpose.

Read on to discover what makes a great presentation and how to evaluate a presenter using our six-point Presenter Skills Assessment criteria so you can make a professional judgement of your people’s presenting skills.

1. Ability to analyse an audience effectively and tailor the message accordingly

If you ask most people what makes a great presentation, they will likely comment on tangible things like structure, content, delivery and slides. While these are all critical aspects of a great presentation, a more fundamental and crucial part is often overlooked – understanding your audience.  So, when you watch people in your organisation or team present, look for clues to see whether they really understand their audience and the particular situation they are currently in, such as:

  • Is their content tight, tailored and relevant, or just generic?
  • Is the information pitched at the right level?
  • Is there a clear ‘What’s In It For Them’?
  • Are they using language and terminology that reflects how their audience talk?
  • Have they addressed all of the pain points adequately?
  • Is the audience focused and engaged, or do they seem distracted?

For your people, getting to know their audience, and more importantly, understanding them, should always be the first step in pulling together a presentation. Comprehending the challenges, existing knowledge and level of detail the audience expects lays the foundation of a winning presentation. From there, the content can be structured to get the presenter’s message across in the most persuasive way, and the delivery tuned to best engage those listening.

2. Ability to develop a clear, well-structured presentation/pitch that is compelling and persuasive

Businesswoman making a great presentation

Flow and structure are both important elements in a presentation as both impact the effectiveness of the message and are essential components in understanding what makes a good presentation and what makes a good speech. When analysing this aspect of your people’s presentations look for a clear, easy to follow agenda, and related narrative, which is logical and persuasive.

Things to look for include:

  • Did the presentation ‘tell a story’ with a clear purpose at the start, defined chapters throughout and a strong close?
  • Were transitions smooth between the ‘chapters’ of the presentation?
  • Were visual aids, handouts or audience involvement techniques used where needed?
  • Were the challenges, solutions and potential risks of any argument defined clearly for the audience?
  • Were the benefits and potential ROI quantified/explained thoroughly?
  • Did the presentation end with a clear destination/call to action or the next steps?

For the message to stick and the audience to walk away with relevant information they are willing to act on, the presentation should flow seamlessly through each part, building momentum and interest along the way. If not, the information can lose impact and the presentation its direction. Then the audience may not feel equipped, inspired or compelled to implement the takeaways.

3. Ability to connect with and maintain the engagement of the audience

Connecting with your audience and keeping them engaged throughout can really be the difference between giving a great presentation and one that falls flat. This is no easy feat but is certainly a skill that can be learned. To do it well, your team need a good understanding of the audience (as mentioned above) to ensure the content is on target. Ask yourself, did they cover what’s relevant and leave out what isn’t? 

Delivery is important here too. This includes being able to build a natural rapport with the audience, speaking in a confident, conversational tone, and using expressive vocals, body language and gestures to bring the message to life. On top of this, the slides need to be clear, engaging and add interest to the narrative. Which leads us to point 4…

4. Ability to prepare effective slides that support and strengthen the clarity of the message

Man making a great visual presentation

It’s not uncommon for slides to be used first and foremost as visual prompts for the speaker. While they can be used for this purpose, the first priority of a slide (or any visual aid) should always be to support and strengthen the clarity of the message. For example, in the case of complex topics, slides should be used to visualise data, reinforcing and amplifying your message. This ensures that your slides are used to aid understanding, rather than merely prompting the speaker.

The main problem we see with people’s slides is that they are bloated with information, hard to read, distracting or unclear in their meaning. 

The best slides are visually impactful, with graphics, graphs or images instead of lines and lines of text or bullet points. The last thing you want is your audience to be focused on deciphering the multiple lines of text. Instead your slides should be clear in their message and add reinforcement to the argument or story that is being shared. How true is this of your people’s slides?

5. Ability to appear confident, natural and in control

Most people find speaking in front of an audience (both small and large) at least a little confronting. However, for some, the nerves and anxiety they feel can distract from their presentation and the impact of their message. If members of your team lack confidence, both in their ideas and in themselves, it will create awkwardness and undermine their credibility and authority. This can crush a presenter and their reputation. 

This is something that you will very easily pick up on, but the good news is that it is definitely an area that can be improved through training and practice. Giving your team the tools and training they need to become more confident and influential presenters can deliver amazing results, which is really rewarding for both the individual and the organisation.

6. Ability to summarise and close a presentation to achieve the required/desired outcome

Audience applauding a great presentation

No matter how well a presentation goes, the closing statement can still make or break it. It’s a good idea to include a recap on the main points as well as a clear call to action which outlines what is required to achieve the desired outcome.

In assessing your people’s ability to do this, you can ask the following questions:

  • Did they summarise the key points clearly and concisely?
  • Were the next steps outlined in a way that seems achievable?
  • What was the feeling in the room at the close? Were people inspired, motivated, convinced? Or were they flat, disinterested, not persuaded? 

Closing a presentation with a well-rounded overview and achievable action plan should leave the audience with a sense that they have gained something out of the presentation and have all that they need to take the next steps to overcome their problem or make something happen.

Effective Presentation Skills are Essential to Growth

It’s widely accepted that effective communication is a critical skill in business today. On top of this, if you can develop a team of confident presenters, you and they will experience countless opportunities for growth and success.

Once you’ve identified where the skill gaps lie, you can provide targeted training to address it. Whether it’s feeling confident presenting to your leadership team or answering unfielded questions, understanding their strengths and weaknesses in presenting will only boost their presenting skills. This then creates an ideal environment for collaboration and innovation, as each individual is confident to share their ideas. They can also clearly and persuasively share the key messaging of the business on a wider scale – and they and the business will experience dramatic results.

Tailored Training to Fill Your Presentation Skill Gaps

If you’re looking to build the presentation skills of your team through personalised training or coaching that is tailored to your business, we can help. For nearly 20 years we have been Australia’s Business Presentation Skills Experts, training & coaching thousands of people in an A-Z of global blue-chip organisations. All our programs incorporate personalised feedback, advice and guidance to take business presenters further. To find out more, click on one of the buttons below:

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Belinda Huckle

Written By Belinda Huckle

Co-Founder & Managing Director

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Belinda is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of SecondNature International. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training both In-Person and Online, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.

Belinda believes that people don’t have to change who they are to be the presenter they want to be. So she developed a coaching approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.

She has helped to transform the presentation skills of people around the world in an A-Z of organisations including Amazon, BBC, Brother, BT, CocaCola, DHL, EE, ESRI, IpsosMORI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Moonpig, Nationwide, Pfizer, Publicis Groupe, Roche, Savills, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.

A total commitment to quality, service, your people and you.