20 Questions to Better Public Speaking
You’ve probably read advice along the way that says it’s a good idea to practice your presentations in front of family, friends, or colleagues before you take them “live.”
And it’s true that the constructive criticism they offer can indeed help you deliver a better talk.
But given your family, friends, and colleagues aren’t necessarily experienced speech coaches, how can you get them to provide the most useful feedback?
If you only ask, “How did I do?” you might receive too general an answer to be helpful. Family and friends, being family and friends, might leave it at “You were great.” A colleague might be a bit more direct. A blanket statement of, “That didn’t really work for me” certainly stings, but also provides no practical advice on how to become a better public speaker.
Make your practice runs more efficient by becoming more targeted in what you seek. We offer 20 questions to ask others when soliciting feedback – whether through an in-person practice session, video conferencing, or by sending an audio or video recording – which will help you get to the heart of what will make for a powerful presentation. You don’t have to ask all 20. Select the ones that are most relevant for you.
20 Better Ways to Ask ‘How’d I Do?’
1. What do you think is my key message?
2. Were my supporting details – the stories, the statistics, the case studies – effective in further explaining my main points?
3. Which supporting detail was most memorable or helpful to you?
4. Which supporting detail was least memorable or helpful to you?
5. Was the information sequenced in a logical manner? Was anything missing? Did anything seem redundant?
6. Was my energy level good? Did I convey passion about the subject?
7. Did I come across as confident and at ease?
8. Was I making good eye contact?
9. Was I focused more on forging a genuine connection with the audience than being “perfect?”
10. Was I speaking too fast? Too slow?
11. Did I use inflection to emphasize key points?
12. What was my body language saying to you?
13. Did I look professional?
14. Was my outfit flattering – good color, good fit, good material?
15. Were there areas that dragged?
16. If you had to cut one thing, what would it be?
17. Did my visuals enhance or distract from my presentation?
18. Did you feel encouraged to ask questions?
19. Did I answer your questions sufficiently? Were my answers the right length?
20. What, more than anything else, do you think you’ll remember?
When you’ve drilled down on those questions, you might ask a final, open-ended one: “What else did you observe?”
Every presenter can get better. It just takes constructive feedback, a willingness to learn, and a desire to change. It all starts with the right questions.