The Five Effective Presentation Criteria that I Looked for While Watching the Conventions
August 4, 2016 by Bill Rosenthal

…and after you read this post, please participate in this quick, 2-question, survey!

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If you’re a reader of this blog, you’re probably an effective communicator, which is to say you think about the process of communication rather than just letting it happen. That’s why I’d like you to complete a brief survey we are doing on the skills of the speakers at the national party conventions that were held last month. 

There were a bewildering number of speakers at the two conventions, and they ran the gamut from eloquent to… well, crazy. But I’m interested to know which one of the six principal presenters, three from each convention, was the best presenter and which was the worst (political viewpoints aside):

Republican

Democratic

Each of the names are also hyperlinked to a video on the video of that person giving his or her convention speech, in case you want a refresher on the speaker’s style or message. 

Note that this is not a political survey, but a survey of presentation skills. Please just rate these people as presenters and not as political figures. Here, in fact, are my own criteria for an effective presentation. 

Message. This is the content of the speech. First and foremost, it must relate to the needs of the specific audience the speaker is addressing. When judging a message, ask if it is substantive. If it is substantive, is it coherent? If it is coherent, is it true, or at least credible? Finally, is it original, or does it just repeat the same things others are saying? 

Projection. Most presenters speak at the mid-point of the volume they are capable of, i.e., on a scale of 1 to 10, they speak at 5. But at volume 7 or 8, audiences recognize the speaker as being authoritative. A forceful voice conveys passion, and passion moves audiences. Even in the age of the microphone, a presenter needs to project his or her voice. How well is the speaker projecting?

Voice tone and pitch. These provide a voice with its expressiveness. They should vary throughout the speech and should support what the speaker is saying rather than work against the message. Do the speaker’s tone and pitch vary? Do they support the message? 

Posture and gestures. The speaker should stand straight and well balanced. But he or she should also gesture, frequently and expansively. Big, expansive gestures suggest the speaker has nothing to hide. Does the speaker have good posture, and does he or she gesture effectively? 

Demeanor. An audience perceives anything other than a relaxed demeanor as forced, and that’s off-putting. Does the speaker seem relaxed and authentic?

A simple way to organize your evaluation of the speakers is to score each of them on a scale of 1 to 5 in each of the five criteria. That would mean the highest possible score is 25, and the lowest is 5. The highest scoring speaker is the one you believe to have the best presentation skills, and the lowest score is the one with the worst.

Now I'd like to invite you to please participate in our survey:

Take the survey >

The survey itself will take you much less than one minute to complete. If the process of evaluating these presenters for the survey gives you some insight or inspiration, please don’t hesitate to return here to share in the comments section.