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. But, without the basis for an objective assessment of these skills, it can make it more difficult to persuade someone that, perhaps, some presentation skills coaching might help transform their ability to do their job (benefiting your business), improve their prospects for promotion (benefiting their career) and dramatically improve their own self-confidence (benefiting their broader life chances).
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 make a professional assessment of your people’s presenting skills. 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 strengths and weaknesses (i.e. skills development opportunities) of anyone in your team or organisation, from the Managing Director down. You can then put training or coaching in place so that everyone who needs it can learn the skills to deliver business presentations online, or face-to-face, 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
Flow and structure are both important elements in a presentation as both impact the effectiveness of the message. 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 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
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 add to the audiences’ experience and understanding through effective use of visual data.
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. They should also 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
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. 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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Don’t Forget To Download Our Presenter Skills Assessment Form
Written By Belinda Huckle
Co-Founder & Managing DirectorRead Bio
Belinda is the founder and managing director of secondnature. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.
She believes in a training approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.
Belinda is currently helping to transform the presentation skills of people in organisations such as BBC Worldwide, DHL, ESRI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Pfizer, Roche, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.