Author: Curtis O. Fletcher
Those who have attended the SCORRE™ Conference know that the E in SCORRE™ stands for evaluation. Sadly, too many speakers believe that evaluation is really just a post mortem exercise. In this three part series I’ll teach you how to most effectively evaluate YOUR talk before, during, and after the presentation.
Pre-delivery evaluation of any talk is crucial if you want to ensure a good connection with your audience. Far too often speakers pour over their content, crating and honing the words and turns of phrase without ever taking the time to do some fundamental pre-speech evaluation.
Pre-speech evaluation, while seemingly simple in essence, provides a critical foundation for success and centers on your knowledge of the three elementary A’s.
Know your Audience
This is more than just saying, “I’ll be speaking to a room of IT professionals.” or “My congregation”. Knowing your audience means you can answer questions like:
- Why are they listening to me?
- How many people are expected?
- What are they hoping to get out of my talk?
- How can they influence a future outcome? (Particular to a sales presentation)
- What decisions am I hoping they will make?
- What are they doing both before and after I speak to them?
The answers to these questions inform you about the audience state of mind, help you pinpoint what criteria they may use to evaluate your talk, and create a set of guidelines for what you might include or exclude once you start shaping your content.
Know your Arena
In this case your ARENA is the venue in which you’ll be presenting. Knowing your arena means you can answer questions like:
- Is there a platform of some kind?
- Is the platform sufficiently lit?
- Is there a projector or an Internet connection? (if you’ll be using slides)
- Is there a sound system?
I once walked into a presentation having assumed a positive answer to these queries only to discover that I would be presenting in a long, narrow, noisy side room at a restaurant with no projector, no sound system, and no stage. Nothing I had painstakingly prepared was going to be of any use at all. All of my preparation time turned out to be wasted time. (Fortunately, as a graduate of SCORRE™, I was able to put together an entirely new talk at the last minute and ad-lib a successful presentation that fit both the audience and the arena but believe me, as speakers we don’t want that kind of stress every time out.)
Know your Application
The third A starts the transition from pre-speech evaluation into speech preparation. Knowing your APPLICATION means you can answer questions like:
- What do I want my audience to do when I am finished?
- Does my talk meet the needs of my audience?
- Do I both know and practice what I am talking about?
- What is my intent for speaking today?
- What must happen for me to call this a win?
- How does my talk accomplish this?
Seem obvious enough? I’ve worked with several authors who, when creating a talk, will say that they really want the audience to buy the book when they’ve finished. They’ll answer that their intent is book sales, and that the win is, you guessed it, book sales. THEN they create a talk that gives away almost the entire book!
The last question here, how does my talk accomplish my win, leaves them speechless.
The interplay between the first question in this set and the last becomes a guide for the content of the talk. If you want them to buy the book then the talk should probably both create value AND create some curiosity about the rest of the book’s content.
Sitting with the questions in each of these three A elements before starting to create your content provides you with a detailed guide to help determine what should be included and what should be excluded from your talk. This pre-speech evaluation informs and fleshes out the context of your presentation thus helping you prepare with confidence.
Share a time that you showed up and found yourself surprised by the make up of the audience or the condition of the arena. What did you do? How would the three A’s of pre-speech evaluation have saved your bacon that day? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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Curtis has more than 30 years experience speaking in public and more than 20 years experience training others how to do so more effectively. One day he hopes to get it absolutely right but until then he’ll keep improving himself and others.