Wednesday, January 4, 2012

4 quick ways to review that talk you just gave

I always recommend taking the time to review your last speech, talk or presentation thoroughly--reviewing a video if you have one or thinking about three things you'd correct next time. But sometimes you'll want to take stock soon after you speak, so here is a quartet of quick things to review right after you've spoken:
  1. How do you feel? Go beyond feeling relief that it's over. Did it seem easy this time? Tougher crowd? Are you feeling less nervous now that you've tried something new? Enjoying good reactions? Surprised? Upset? Your immediate reactions are worth thinking about and perhaps recording, so you can reflect on them and learn from them.
  2. What did you notice, and when did it happen? Did the audience fall silent at some point? Did they laugh or react at a particular line? When did you start feeling comfortable, or uncomfortable? Did something fall flat? Pinpointing your first impressions and taking the time to recall when the events occurred during your presentation can help you get to the root of your successes, or mistakes you don't want to repeat. Then you can decide whether the cause was something you can change, or something over which you have no control in the moment.
  3. What were you thinking when something went wrong? Often, when I'm reviewing a talk or a video with a client, she'll point out an error. "What were you thinking just then?" I'll ask. If it's something she can recall, we often can target something specific for correction. If you can do this quickly after a talk, you may be able to identify distractions, feelings of fear, or other factors that you can correct next time...and you'll better understand how they trip you up.
  4. What did you hear? Sure, there are plenty of people who'll just say, "I enjoyed your speech." But if you get specific feedback, or just a general sense of the audience's reactions, both are worth noting quickly, so you can use them to plan ahead for next time. Don't forget to check for reactions on Twitter and other social networks, where your listeners may have recorded their reactions.