One of the questions I get asked often is, “How do I know my presentation connected with the audience?” That’s a fair question because just about every speaker is curious, if not eager, to know if they served their audience well.
Here’s what I tell them. First, listen to the subject of their comments. If it’s about you, you probably didn’t achieve your objective. If it’s about themselves, it’s more than likely that you nailed it! Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Please stick with me while I explain.
When audience members come up to you after your presentation and say things like, “Good job!” or “You certainly are passionate about your subject!” or “You’re an excellent speaker!” Well, it’s a good bet that you’re at least an adequate speaker and quite possibly an excellent one.
However, as good a technical speaker as you may be, you may have missed the mark when it comes to serving your audience. Otherwise, the audience members would be saying things like, “I am inspired!” or “Now, I know that I can face my greatest fears!” or “I never looked at it that way before. I’m glad you gave me a different perspective to ponder.”
You see, when they speak about you, it often – not always, but often – means you didn’t give them anything to take away. But when they talk about themselves and what they are going to do or how your talk has changed them, you’ve done your job and done it well.
Now, keep in mind that if you’re speaking in a situation such as a meeting in a conference room, and while on your way back to your seat, someone quickly says, “Good job!” or “You were awesome!” you may have indeed served your listeners well. But because the other person had to be brief, they used shorthand.
So, what should you do when people say, “Good job!” and similar statements? Respond by saying something like, “Thank you for your kind words. What’s your greatest takeaway?” If they can provide one, you’ve done your job. If they compliment you, well … you know.
Strive for more than the ever-so-polite “Good job!” and listen for words that confirm you and the message you shared affected the minds, careers, or other parts of your listeners’ lives.
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