How to Measure Presentation Success

You spent weeks planning and preparing and you just finished delivering your presentation, so how do you know if it was a success? In some ways, the success or failure of your presentation should be obvious- did your audience pay attention or were they falling asleep in their seats and fidgeting with their phones? Other times we assume that smiles and the occasional laughter are signs of success. However, it is important to dive deeper and find out whether or not you truly succeeded in your presentation goals instead of making assumptions. After all, you put an enormous amount of time and effort into this presentation so you need to know if you hit the mark or missed it altogether. Here are ways you can really measure your presentation success.

Observe Audience Behavior
An informal way to measure presentation success is simply paying attention to the audience’s behavior during the presentation. Are they making direct eye contact with you? Are they raising their hands to ask questions and participate in interactions? Do they appear to look interested in what you are saying? All of these are good signs that your audience was engaged. Conversely, if they were looking down at their phone or tablet, checking the time, dozing off, and looking exasperated, it would be safe to assume they are less than enthusiastic about your presentation.

Observe the Quality of the Discussion
Most presenters have a Q&A session at the end of their presentation and offer their audience a chance to discuss the material. You can get an idea of how successful your presentation was by the quality of this discussion. Is the audience eager to ask questions and learn more? Do they seem to have an understanding of the topic? Are they trying to work out the details of your discussion right then and there? All of these are indicators that your presentation went well and resonated with the audience.

Take a Survey
A simple way to know if you have achieved your presentation objectives is by asking your audience to provide feedback with a quick survey. Be sure and include open ended questions that encourage audience members to explain their answers. A “good job” is meaningless without an explanation of why it was a good job. You know you have made an impact when audience members list specific examples of things they learned and took away from your presentation.

Post-Presentation Conversations
If you have ever sat through a boring presentation then you are familiar with everyone packing up and racing to the door to get out as soon as it’s over. On the other hand, great presenters draw you in and make you want to engage with them even after the presentation is over. If your audience members come up to you afterward and thank you or share feedback with you, you know you have made an impression. If they say something like, “your story reminded me of my own experience,” you know your message resonated with them in a personal way and that’s the mark of a successful presentation.