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Presentation Evaluation Interview with Communication Expert and Author Jerry Weissman

Rate Speeches conducted an interview about evaluating presentations with presentation skills expert, coach, and author, Jerry Weissman.

Zaydoon Jawadi, Rate Speeches:

Most presentation skills coaches generate presentation evaluations (also called public speaking, speaker, speech, or presentation assessments, critiques, feedback, or analysis) of their clients' presentations.  What should evaluators look for when evaluating presentations?

Jerry Weissman:

Apply the “I” vs. “you” formula.

If a presenter says more of the former word than the latter, the presentation is more about the presenter than the audience—a sure prescription for failure.  Presenter-centric presentations lack value for the audience, and with no value for the audience, the presenter cannot attain the goal of the presentation.

Zaydoon Jawadi, Rate Speeches:

Presentation attendees are often asked to write brief reviews about the presenters and presentations, or to rate the presenters and presentations based on a few criteria.  What should attendees look for when rating presentations?

Jerry Weissman:

Apply the five question test.

If at any time during a presentation, an audience member thinks one of the following thoughts, the presentation loses effectiveness:

1. “What's the point?”

2. “Why should I care?”

3. “How did they get there?”

4. “What does that mean?”

5. “How much longer will this go on?”

Each of those questions respectively implies:

1. The presenter has not stated a goal.

2. The presenter has not provided a benefit for the audience.

3. The presentation has no clear structure.

4. The presenter hasn't explained a technical detail.

5. The presentation is running long.

Use any system for assigning or subtracting points for each question; with five being the worst and none being the best. Better yet, if of any of those five questions, a presentation produces five “Aha!s” the presentation is a unqualified success.

Zaydoon Jawadi, Rate Speeches:

What advice would you give the presenters or recipients to benefit from evaluations and ratings?

Jerry Weissman:

Listen to your audience and adjust your future presentations to reflect their reactions. Of course, the best advice is to anticipate what the audience wants and give it to them before they have to ask you.

July 20, 2011


About Jerry Weissman:

Jerry Weissman is the world's number one corporate presentations coach. His private client list reads like a who's who of the world's best companies, including the top brass at Yahoo!, Intel, Intuit, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Netflix, Dolby Labs, eBay and many others.

Mr. Weissman founded Power Presentations, Ltd. in 1988.  One of his earliest efforts was the Cisco Systems IPO road show.  Following its successful launch, Don Valentine, of Sequoia Capital, and then chairman of Cisco's Board of Directors, attributed “at least two to three dollars” of the offering price to Mr. Weissman's coaching.  That endorsement led to more than 500 other IPO road show presentations that have raised hundreds of billions of dollars in the stock market.

Mr. Weissman's focus widened from coaching IPOs to include public and privately held companies.  His techniques have helped another 500 plus firms develop and deliver their presentations.

Mr. Weissman is also the author of four business books: Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story; The Power Presenter: Technique, Style, and Strategy from America’s Top Speaking Coach; In the Line of Fire: How to Handle Tough Questions; and Presentations in Action: 80 Memorable Presentation Lessons from the Masters.

As a prelude to Power Presentations, Mr. Weissman had an extensive career in television as a producer of public affairs programs, including three years at the Network for continuing Medical Education, and a decade at WCBS-TV, the flagship station of the CBS Television Network in New York.

In 1980, Pinnacle Books published Mr. Weissman's novel The Zodiac Killer.

Mr. Weissman has a BA degree from New York University, and an MA in Speech and Drama from Stanford University.

Jerry Weissman