Getting feedback from presentations

As startup CEO, you are doing presentations often. It could be fund raising pitches, conference presentations, customer talks and many more. In a 1-1 presentation, it is quite straightforward to get feedback. It is easy to talk to that person after the presentation and get feedback on various aspects.

What do you do if you are presenting to an audience? You could network with folks after the presentation and ask for feedback. I have found that it’s hard to get qualitative feedback in such a setting. There are various distractions such as food and other people and valuable feedback may also get lost if folks simply leave immediately. You want to know if feedback from a few people is an outlier or consistent with the rest of the comments. Most often, it is 3 or 4 people in a panel that’s giving you feedback on your pitch.

How about engaging people while you are giving a presentation? In a recent presentation that I made, the organizer used a service called sli.do. I am sure there are other such services or tools. After each presenter, the audience was asked to take up to a minute to rate the presentation on various aspects and provide any free form feedback or ask questions to the presenter. They closed the feedback after one minute.

The feedback from the event was the best quality feedback that I have gotten. I was amazed at the audience participation and the thoughtful feedback that came my way. I was quickly able to see some trends and made a note to work on those in the next presentation.

As an individual, you have that capability. If an event organizer does not have a way to collect feedback, you can create an event (your presentation) and ask for feedback. You can ask audience to enter questions and respond to them later. If an event organizer already has a way to collect feedback, talk to them beforehand and find out what questions are in the feedback section. You may be able to work with event organizers and have some custom questions added for your presentation.If you are doing a fund raising pitch, I would steer away from questions that ask them to make a decision immediately – such as “Will you invest in my company?”

It’s worth the trouble to ask the organizer to use such tools and make your time count.

Happy presenting!

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