Your speech may be over, but the work of Breakthrough Speaking is not. As your audience files out of the room, you should begin to review and analyze your performance. Did your presentation have the impact you sought? Did you inspire the members of your audience to see things in a different light and to change? By conducting a “post-mortem” examination of every performance, you can get a true sense of what works and what doesn’t, and you can make your presentation even better for the next time.
You can begin your post-performance analysis immediately by making some quick, brief notes to yourself right after the speech. During a speech, you will get a sense of the highlights and “lowlights” of the audience response and your own effectiveness in communicating your message. You should jot down your thoughts about these moments as quickly as possible because you are likely to forget them once you have left the stage and your selective memory takes over.
Also, immediately following your speech, some members of the audience may approach you with some feedback. People who come up to you afterwards will be, for the most part, positive. That’s because people typically hesitate to confront a speaker face-to-face if they didn’t enjoy him or her. Expect that the audience members you talk to afterwards will be kind, if not completely honest
You need to solicit broader constructive feedback from your audience. Good friends and relatives (who view your performance) can be a source of honest feedback, but only if they love you enough to tell you the truth. Ask them for their opinion of your presentation in these three areas: what worked, what didn’t work, and how you can improve. You might also follow-up with the event organizers and even audience members. Try sending them a brief thank you that invites them to say what they liked and didn’t about your performance.
In the days following your performance, review your presentation, considering your notes and feedback. If your presentation was recorded, review the audio or video of it and critique yourself and your impact on the audience. In this light, consider how your presentation could be improved for even greater impact. A little change of emphasis
Also, remember that you can’t affect an entire audience. I used to be disappointed if an audience didn’t laugh, applaud, or get excited at the points I thought the audience should. But then I made an important discovery: breakthrough speaking isn’t about affecting an audience. It’s about affecting individuals in that audience. When they leave the presentation room, they are no longer an audience, and, ultimately, any change will be at an individual level. When someone comes to me at the end of a presentation and says, “I just want you to know that what you said today made a difference to me,” I am gratified. I know I’ve achieved success where it counts-at the individual level.
It is important that you know the difference between a good audience and good work. I have made really good presentations that my audience didn’t overtly respond to, and I have made less-than-spectacular presentations that my audience greeted with cheers and applause. If you evaluate your speaking on the basis of audience response, you might be misled. Instead, ask yourself, “Did I do good work today?”
What qualifies as good work? When I have designed a presentation that will deliver value for listeners, when I have then prepared, practiced, and presented it to the best of my ability – that’s when I have done good work.