Jeff Carouth

Web and mobile developer. Agile apprentice.

Thank You! Please Rate Your Speakers.

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At the end of most of my slide decks, you’ll find a slide that says thank you and asks you to rate my presentation. At first glance it may seem that I’m just a vain person and I want each person that sees my slides to go give me a thumbs up, five stars, you are the man on joind.in, but the truth is I really want to get better at presenting. Don’t get me wrong, five stars across the board is great–and something I strive for each time I connect my MacBook to a projector–but what I really crave is feedback. Tell me what I did right. Tell me what sucked. I legitimately want to know.

I know I’m not alone in this. Getting up in front of a bunch of one’s peers to talk about something technical is difficult. I am confident that even those that routinely present will say the same. The best advice I’ve ever received about presenting is: recognize that you might not be the most knowledgeable person on the subject in room, that you do not know the answers to every question, and that the only thing setting you apart from the audience is your name badge. It’s true. This is precisely why it’s so important to give feedback to the person that spent many hours crafting an idea into slides and words–no small feat.

It is easy to sit here and say, go give valuable feedback to people. I myself sometimes have a hard time with this task. But I think a small set of questions can help you figure out what to say:

  • Were the slides easy to follow? and did they flow with the speaker or were they distracting?
  • Did the speaker misspeak? say “um,” “uh,” or “well” too often?
  • Does the content of the presentation match what you expected based on the abstract?
  • Did you feel engaged? If you asked a question, was your question answered?
  • What is the best thing you gained by attending the session?
  • Was there a point that was particularly difficult to grasp during the talk? Do you have suggestions to make it easier to understand?
  • Can you apply anything from the presentation to your situation? Will you?

I guarantee you answering any or all of these questions will definitely be appreciated by the speaker presenting at the next event you attend. There are many more that you can answer, but I think you probably get the point by now.

The takeaway here is you should take a few moments to rate your speaker, but it’s more important that you give him or her advice on how to improve the talk next time. Doing that will make your input much more valuable that just saying, “meh - 2 stars.”

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