Over the very few years I have been working with translation, I have attended some events, have given two lectures and presented two webinars (but I plan to do much more!)
While I do not have many under my belt yet, I have already noticed some important behavioral patterns indicating whether those who attended my lectures/webinars were satisfied or not. These patterns appeared in the answers to the questions I asked myself during moments of personal reflection. Because these answers proved very useful to me, I have decided to share them here so that other professionals can also engage in a similar self-evaluation process. Therefore, if you are a speaker, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Did the audience interact with you?
The idea here is to think whether people were really paying attention to what you said, or if half of them were sleeping and the other half were merely physically present. Did you notice people taking notes? Did they ask questions about the topic? Were these pertinent questions? To summarize, did they show interest? Be careful with this one! Eyes on the cell phone could mean either distraction or so much interest that the person is tweeting every little thing you say…
2. After the presentation, did someone approach you to exchange ideas?
Your lecture is over. Did someone come say hello and introduce themselves, expressing an interest in what had been said? When this happens, it is crucial that you have your business cards handy. Use this proximity to show that you are interested in extending contact with them beyond the event.
3. Did other speakers mention parts of your speech in their presentations?
Answering yes to this question is very good for two reasons: It shows that you are in tune with your colleagues and that your topic was so relevant that your colleague decided to complement their own lecture with a piece from yours. In other words, the more speakers mentioning your name, the more relevant your presentation must have been.
4. Did you give special attention to those who always follow you?
Even though I have given only a few presentations, I have noticed that some people always make an effort to attend my lectures, and most of them are quite pro-active at that. I do not mean to disregard first timers, but rather give special attention to those who made sure to follow you. If it is a live event, seek out to these people and thank them individually for their being there again. If it is online, thank them the same via e-mail; they can become your best marketing tool.
5. Did people leave the room during your talk?
Do not worry. Some people really do get up and leave, especially at events with simultaneous tracks. This does not necessarily mean that your presentation sucks. The participant may have left to use the restroom, get some water, answer an important call or even to listen to piece of another presentation. This is pretty normal. However, check to see if most people simply decide to walk out. This may be a sign that you are not pleasing the crowd…
As I said earlier, my answers to these questions have thankfully been quite positive. If yours were not as good, try to identify your weak points and take a moment to think about how you could improve them. There are countless tips and references online that can help you fix a recurring problem that you perhaps did not even know that you had.
Interesting topics require intelligent speakers who put forth a concerted effort. After all, your public always deserves the very best.