The art of mastering the image we project is omnipresent during a public speech. This inevitably leads us to question what our audience thinks of our intervention. The most direct way would be to clumsily ask, “so, how was it?” The more skilled speakers over-invest in the exercise so that the audience answers the question without having been asked the question…
However, in either case, the speaker is mistaken in his objectives by adopting what we call the posture of the good student. In this posture, the speaker doesn’t want the feed-back that will make him progress; he just wants to be told that it was good (link to the ZETIP: The mistake of the good student). The audience becomes a jury that gives, at best, a good grade and at worst a critique that will either not be listened to, or be misinterpreted. We all need recognition, but we cannot get it at the expense of our ability to progress!
The solution is to give the speaker the control to be able to self-evaluate whether his presentation was effective or not. This brings us back to the fundamentals: “What is the purpose of a presentation?” We believe that the purpose of any speech is to change the people who come to listen; to change how they feel, what they think and what they’ll do about the subject presented.
By clearly writing down what your presentation needs to change, you don’t necessarily regain control of your image, but rather of the purpose of your speech. Because if you change what people think, they will tell you about it. And if you change what people do, you’ll see it. With this posture, you will no longer need to ask your audience what they thought of your presentation, because you will know whether you have reached your goal… or not.