of the most common questions I get asked when it comes to presenting either on
stage or live over social media is “should I watch myself back and critique my
performance?”. This is a really tricky one as self-evaluation can be an
uncomfortable process and different for everyone, but it’s so important for
understanding and improving your skills moving forward.
I am presenting in person to an audience either on-stage or in a more intimate,
seminar style setting, I always try to record my performance. These rules also
apply for Facebook Lives, Instagram Stories, and any other one-take style
videos. I’ll then take a couple of days out before watching it back, just once.
I take notes as I go, and then move on. For me, this means I pick up on any
mistakes I’ve made, missed information or opportunities, I can note down what
worked and what didn’t, and remember any impromptu laughs or comments I might
want to use again. Every speaker is different and when you watch back you might
find that you’re pausing too long, or talking too fast, or standing too still –
but you’ll also more than likely feel pretty good, and realise you’re speaking
with more confidence and personality than you felt like in the moment.
important thing is not to overwatch, hence my “one replay only” rule. No good
can come from obsessing over every change of tone, every odd hand movement, every
tiny stutter. So once you’ve taken your notes, archive your video, congratulate
yourself on a job well done, and go pour yourself a glass of wine.
like any rule, there are some exceptions. For a presentation you give multiple
times, there’s no need to re-watch every session you deliver. Personally, I’ll
only watch back if I’ve added new material, or if I have a new type or size of
audience that I’ve never presented to before. Another exception for me are if
you’re hosting, moderating or interviewing. This is a different kind of public
speaking, where performing naturally and authentically is key, and too much
self-critique here can take away from that realism.
the scariest but most productive thing to do is ask for feedback from your
audience. After all, they’re the ones who really decide if your presentation
has been a success or not! If this isn’t possible, ask a coach, colleague or
mentor to watch your performance, live if possible, take notes, and offer both
positive affirmation and contructive criticism. Never be afraid to ask for help
– public speaking and personal communication an inherently collaborative
process, you can’t do it alone!
what do you think? Are you going to watch your next presentation back, or hit
the delete button and move on! Let me know!