Al Uszynski

Article Summary:

How do you measure whether your presentation was successful or not?

Presentations: Measuring Your Success

If you judge the success of your presentations by attendees' compliments and the scores from written evaluations, then you're focused on the wrong outcomes.

A proper presentation objective never focuses on speaker accolades or high marks from a survey. (After all, haven't you ever been polite to a mediocre speaker and told them how great they were?)

Instead, a good presentation objective is centered on the desired results for the attendees. In sales training, the real success is realized months later when revenues increase. Or if the topic is web design with JavaScript, the results are accomplished when the programmers design more dynamic web pages in less time. For an after-dinner keynote, the objectives are achieved when the group goes home wearing a collective smile and feeling better about their organization.

In order to deliver programs that produce results, your message must connect with the audience. And remember, making this connection is a two-way street. While you can benefit by learning things about the audience ahead of time, you should also recognize that they have a strong desire to connect with you, the perceived expert.

Since each attendee hears the presentation from a unique perspective, you must present material that has a lasting impact on everybody. Here are five ways to deliver programs that generate long-term results.

1. Help them relate
When using analogies, stories and anecdotes, make sure that they are on-target with the audience and consistent with the presentation's objective. For example, if the audience is more than 80 percent female, save your anecdote about the '85 Bears defensive line for the next group.

Likewise, if you are from Brooklyn and are presenting in Indiana, don't use your “in a New York minute” story. Instead, try to appropriately weave in a “knee high by the Fourth of July” reference. (That's a phrase that Hoosiers use to describe the progressive growth of corn crops.)

In addition to striving to be relevant, be timely. Pick up the local newspaper and find an article that can help you deliver your message. Doing this shows the audience that your presentation is current and that they're not hearing the same canned speech you delivered in Milwaukee last month.

2. Ask for buy-in
Ask easy questions that get the audience members to buy-in to the message and commit to their personal action plan. In sales training, I ask questions like, “By using these methods, how many of you can generate more appointments next week?” A nutritionist might ask, “Now that you know the facts, how many people here plan on avoiding bacon at breakfast tomorrow?”

3. Reinforce their investment
Today, getting people's time can sometimes be more challenging than getting their money. At the beginning of the presentation, congratulate the attendees for committing their valuable time to learning more about the topic being presented.

A speaker in Boston was presenting to a room of 35 people for an event that had more than 100 pre-registrations. A snowstorm had kept most away. The presenter's first PowerPoint slide showed a satellite weather photo similar to what you might see on the evening news. The captured image (taken hours earlier from www.weather.com) showed the storm clouds covering Eastern Massachusetts. This helped the speaker applaud each attendee's dedication and gave them a proud feeling of commitment to the day's topic. (It also showed attendees that the presentation they were about to see was current, not canned.)

Towards the end of the presentation, remind attendees that they just invested valuable time in the program, even though they could have chosen to spend that precious time in their offices or with their families. Point out that they will lose 100 percent of their investment if they never use any of the presented information. That would be no different than buying an expensive piece of exercise equipment and never using it, or buying a self-help book and never reading a page.

4. Provide a handy synopsis
Even if you gave attendees handouts or a binder, always leave them with a small take-away in the form of a bookmark, booklet or index card that lists the main points of the presentation. Make it easy for attendees to carry that useful synopsis with them in their planner, purse or wallet - or to post it on their office wall to reinforce the messages.

5. Communicate with the executive stakeholder
After making a presentation to a business, keep in touch with the executive who has the biggest vested interest in accomplishing the desired results. Ask what the organization is doing to implement the ideas that were shared during the presentation. This helps you build a stronger relationship with that person, while keeping your message's momentum alive within the organization and eventually accomplishing the objectives.

When preparing your next presentation, focus your attention on helping the attendees produce increased long-term results. Do this right, and the accolades and high marks will follow. But more importantly, you will have made a lasting, positive impact on the audience.

Al Uszynski helps companies and individuals sell more, earn more and profit more. As a sales trainer and professional speaker, he helps his clients achieve outstanding business results. Al is the founder of Selling Resource. Get the free sales tips newsletter and free report "12 Mistakes Salespeople Make" at www.SellingResource.com or read more at www.uszynski.com.

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