Self-evaluation or why you should watch yourself speak!

I spent a couple of hours during the Christmas break to watch the recording of my recent speeches. It is an exercise that I had somewhat neglected in the past as I discovered that I hadn’t done a self-evaluation of many speeches, some even stretching back to 2018! It was time well spent and reminded me why this is something that everybody that aspires to become a strong speaker and presenter should do.

Self-evaluation shows you how really speak

There are always differences between the speech we prepared, the speech we deliver and the speech we wished we had delivered. By watching a recording of your speech, you can get a true picture of how you came across in the eyes of audience members present. Quite often my impression of how I performed on the day is very different to what I see on video. Most of the time, it is actually better than what I thought immediately after I had finished delivering my speech. This doesn’t mean that I am happy with everything I see. But what I saw gave me a good indication of where my areas for development lie as a speaker.

For example, stagecraft and moving on stage seamlessly is still something that I want to improve. My eye contact is miles ahead of where it was even a few years ago. However, I still want to find news ways to build a stronger connection with my audience through my delivery. One thing I am very pleased with is how I’ve successfully expanded my speech preparation toolkit. Most of the speeches I delivered with limited preparation came out well.

What to look out for when doing a self-evaluation

You are your own harshest critic and will likely immediately notice things about your delivery that you don’t like. Nevertheless, a bit of structure helps when doing a self-evaluation of one of your speeches or presentations. You may, for example, want to focus your attention on the following:

  • Clarity and strength of message – Is your message the one you wanted to deliver? Did you miss anything that could have been included? Did you end up adding extra content “on the fly” while you delivered your speech?
  • Body language in relation to the audience – Were you facing the audience the whole time or did you end-up looking slides or walking perpendicularly to the audience? How are your hand gestures like? Do you perhaps push the audience away with your palms?
  • Vocal variety and use of voice – If you’re keen to do so, your recording can help you calculate your speaking speed. How was the pace of your speaking? Did you pause for effect when needed or to create an impact on your listeners? Did you emphasise key words in your speech?

Finally, what is your overall impression of your performance? Are you pleased with it or do you feel that it could have been better?

How you too can do it

All you need to do a self-evaluation of your next speech is a video of it. The next time you’re scheduled to speak, ask somebody to record a video on your phone or camera. Another option is to buy a tripod and you can find one on Amazon for less than £20. You don’t have to look at the video of your speech immediately. My advice is to set aside some time to look at it, preferably alongside any notes, slides or scripts for this given speech or presentation.

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