What Went Wrong During Your Presentation or Media Interview?

Sometimes you are so focused on preparing for your next presentation or media interview that you overlook Bad Good Better Best Meterthat evaluating your last performance is just as important. What went right – or wrong?

Prepare for Your Post-Mortem

You feel you’ve done everything you could to prepare for your presentation or interview:

  • Key messages nailed down. Check.
  • Practiced and perfected your delivery. Check.
  • Wore the right clothes and powdered your face to eliminate shine. Check.

But did you prepare for an evaluation of your performance? No one is perfect. We all have good and bad days. Your goal is to keep improving and refining your performance. And every presentation and interview is a performance.

You can begin the evaluation during the meeting. Ask for feedback from the audience. You can ask, “Before I move on to my next point, does anyone have a question?” or “Did that explain the process sufficiently?” If you see heads nodding up and down you’ve done your job. Be grateful if someone does ask you to repeat your instructions. Most likely others in the audience didn’t quite get them either and you have time to recover and clarify your thoughts.

When talking with a reporter, check for understanding throughout the interview. Ask, “Did that answer your question?” or, “Do you need any more information?” The reporter will be more likely to trust the information provided if you’re not afraid to answer his questions. Just be sure you’re ready with the information he needs or be able to access it quickly.

Oops The true test of your interview will be if you’re actually quoted in the reporter’s story. Maybe you didn’t provide enough information. You forgot to ask if he needed anything else. Or, it could simply be that his editor didn’t have the space and cut his article.

Don’t be afraid to call and ask why you weren’t quoted, but don’t be nasty about it. Ask if it was something you said – or didn’t say – that got you left out of the story. Try to learn if it was your fault or because the story was edited and beyond his control.

The Post-Mortem

To better evaluate your performance:

  • Ask for feedback. Ask for it verbally and, if you’re presenting to a large audience, ask participants to fill out an evaluation form before they leave. While you may get some helpful comments, many in the audience don’t bother to fill them out and the ones who do will always find something negative to say. However, you still may get some useful information.
  • Ask an advisor to monitor your performance. Ask someone from your PR department or agency to sit in on your presentation or media interview. Then debrief with him afterwards.
  • Record your TV presentation. If you’re appearing on TV, set your DVR and review your performance later. Screen the video more than once. Did you hit all your key messages? Did you make eye contact? Did you use gestures appropriately? Did you manage the Q&A so that you had a lively discussion with lots of good questions?
  • Tape Your Media Interview.  When doing an interview by phone, record the interview to play back later. If you are in a sit-down meeting, ask the reporter’s permission to tape the interview. Critique yourself afterward just as you did with video.

The tendency after an interview or presentation is to focus on all the things that went wrong. Start first by focusing on what you did right.  If you’re well prepared for the presentation or interview, then your post-performance evaluation will most likely uncover only minor things that can be improved. Don’t be too hard on yourself and expect perfection every time you’re on stage.

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