On the fourth day of Christmas…

On the fourth day of Christmas…

…my true love gave to me four pieces of feedback.

fourth day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four pieces of feedback. Feedback is essential to develop as a presenter. This must be specific, from a presentation buddy and designed for development. The majority of written conference feedback is neither designed for such a purpose nor balanced. Obtain feedback to develop as a presenter.

Feedback should address four sections; message (p1), media (p2), delivery (p3) and overall value (p cubed). Feedback must be sought prospectively and offered as part of a learning conversation with a performance improvement objective. Questions are best phrased around curiosity to allow explanation and interrogation rather than statements of like or dislike. A potential structure has been shared before in this guest blog.

The message (p1) is central to a presentation. It is from this that the whole can be reconstructed as learning does not simply happen within the presentation itself rather it is the stimulus to more learning. Feedback on the message must address whether the message was clear and memorable, the structure supporting the message and potential gaps identified by audience questioning and the reception of the message. Most presenters are clear that they could improve their message if a second opportunity arose to deliver the presentation. How effective was the message and how that be strengthened?

The second piece of feedback should address the supportive media (p2). This should add to the message, its delivery, and retention. Feedback might address quality, quantity, design, themes, fonts, colours, graphs and consistency. Consideration should also include alternative media, the use of blank slides and even whether supportive media was appropriate. How and why did the supportive media add to the presentation and how might that be improved?

The third piece of feedback should address delivery (p3). This should cover everything from the initial step onto the stage to the presenter returning to their seat. It is important to consider the spoken message, the use of supportive media and also all interactions and physical aspects of the presentation such as movement on the stage, lighting and even clothing. Don’t forget timing! The delivery significantly affects the value of a presentation and is not simply about reading a script. How might the performance be improved?

The p cubed value of a presentation is entirely personal. A succinct message, beautifully designed media and engaging delivery of a 10-minute piece may inspire one audience member but leave a mandatory training officer wondering if the guidelines should have been read out verbatim. The interaction of all three segments as a whole must be addressed and discussed in feedback. It is important to consider the whole even in the face of perceived flaws. How was the presentation?

Feedback is essential to develop; presentations are a skill, not a gift. Feedback should be sought prospectively on four key issues; message, media, delivery and the piece as a whole. Stretching the analogy a little, it is probably better to have four individuals offering that feedback rather than just the one true love!

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