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Measure the Effectiveness of Your Speech

One key metric matters most when judging your speech’s success.

9
minute read
Published on
May 27, 2024
If you evaluate your speech based on post-event surveys and speaker ratings, you might have a skewed perception of success.

As soon as you step off stage, you’re mobbed by a group of eager fans and audience members who shower you with praise. The line of attendees who wait to congratulate you almost reaches the back of the room. 

A few weeks later, the event organizer sends you the results from the post-event surveys, and your speaker ratings are off the charts—4.9 out of 5! You’re in the top one percent of speakers from the event. Maybe you’re even the top-rated speaker. Way to go!

When you open the spreadsheet of anonymous feedback, you see positive comment after positive comment. Praise, compliments, and approbation galore. 

Except for that one negative comment (there’s always one) that gets under your skin. But you ignore it and focus on the rest of the overwhelmingly positive feedback about you and your speech. 

With results like those, you can’t help but think to yourself: “I am on fire! I’m absolutely crushing it.” 

Your speech was fantastic. Your performance was incredible. You’re killing it.  

Or are you? 

Do speaker ratings, compliments, and positive feedback accurately measure the success of your speech? 

Some speakers judge their speech’s effectiveness by audience engagement. In fact, it’s one of the most common ways to measure your performance. If people are participating, paying attention, and they look interested and engaged, you might be well on your way to crafting a great experience. 

Other speakers look to post-event feedback from event organizers. Positive comments and testimonials from the people who book you for their events are a great way to know you’re delivering.  

Some business owners and consultants who speak to generate business and attract new leads might use the number of business cards they collect as a way to rate the effectiveness of their session. 

While these can be valuable indicators of a speaker’s performance, there might be a better way to judge your speech’s success. 

You see, there are actually three problems with these types of audience-perception-based feedback metrics. These three hard truths reveal why these metrics can skew your perception and affect your overall progress as a transformational speaker or thought leader. 

Hard truth #1: People usually won’t say negative things to your face.  

Here’s the thing—the people who didn’t like your presentation usually won’t come up to you and tell you. It just doesn’t happen. 

Now, during your speaking career, you’ll probably encounter a few public speaking “hall monitors.” These know-it-all gurus feel the need to criticize every performance they see, so they frequently (and usually unsuccessfully) share their unsolicited (and often unwelcomed) speaking advice. Take their advice with a grain of salt. 

But most of the time, 99% of the comments you’ll hear after your speech will be overwhelmingly positive. While some audience members might think things like, “that sucked, it didn’t have any actionable takeaways I can use” or “that was boring, I just didn’t get it,” they’ll probably keep it to themselves. 

Perhaps they remember their mother’s constant refrain: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” They certainly aren’t going to express their complaints—that would be impolite. 

That’s why most of the time event attendees will tell you things like: “Thank you so much, you were great!” But that’s actually a huge red flag. 

🚩 That’s a red flag. 

You were great” is NOT what you want to hear after your speech. Why? 

Because this isn’t about you. It’s about your speech, your message, and your ideas. 

What you want to hear is: “the speech was great.” Or, maybe even, “that was great.” (See the difference?)

When you have a truly transformational speech, after you walk off stage, people will compliment the speech. They’ll ask you questions about the content you shared. They’ll share similar ideas and you’ll see the excitement in their eyes as they share their thoughts with you. But, if their praise is about you, it’s unlikely your speech was transformational. And you can’t be a transformational speaker without a transformational speech. 

Don’t seek approval. Don’t be star struck by the positive comments that are focused on you. What you want to hear is people talking about your speech

But even then, that type of feedback is still not measurable. 

Hard truth #2: Few people fill out the post-event evaluations. 

When you look at the statistics, the percentage of people who actually fill out the post-event evaluations is fairly low overall. You might have even noticed this yourself. 

On most of the feedback documents event planners send you, you can find in small print on the bottom the number of respondents and the total number of attendants. Usually only 20-50% of the event attendees fill out the surveys.

Of course, when event organizers incentivize filling out the surveys by offering a prize or reward, that percentage increases. But even then, often the quality of the survey leaves a lot to be desired. (They just want to win that $250 Amazon gift card!)

That’s why it’s important to remember that the audience feedback you receive from surveys isn’t an accurate representation of the audience in general. Usually, only a small percentage of the audience completes the surveys—and the ones who do are often the most engaged, enthusiastic, and participative audience members. 

Hard truth #3: Executives rarely give feedback in surveys.

Perhaps it’s because they don’t have time to fill out surveys—most company leaders spend their extra time at events, networking and catching up with other executives. Or maybe they’re weary of the perceived value of event surveys—their advice could get lost among the other survey answers and be quickly forgotten. 

Now, that’s not to say executives don’t give feedback. They do. But they don’t use event surveys to do it. 

Most often, they’ll speak directly with event organizers to share their feedback (and most of the time it will be pretty brutal—and pretty honest). They want their feedback to have an impact and they want to be heard. 

If you’re hoping the survey results will show you what CEOs and company leaders think about your speech…you’re probably out of luck.

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evaluate the success of your speech using post-event surveys.
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use stageside leads and referrals as a marker for the effectiveness of your speech.
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The Best Way to Measure Your Speech

Feedback from event attendees, speaker ratings, and comments from post-event surveys are all very subjective ways to measure the effectiveness of your speech. For a more accurate and objective evaluation, there are a few things you might consider doing.  

Earn stageside leads and referrals. 

To create a sustainable speaking career, every speech you give should generate new speaking gigs for you. That happens when you have a referable speech that earns you new inquiries we like to call stageside leads

Stageside leads are people that come up to you after you walk off stage and ask you to speak at their event—and who provide three specific things: the name of the event, the date, and an invitation to speak or connect. 

Usually, these event attendees will say something like this: 

“Oh my gosh! That was amazing. Your speech would be perfect for our company conference. Are you available on November 15th, and what’s your fee?” 

Stageside leads are a clear indicator of future success. If you can generate a few stageside leads every time you speak, you’ll fill up your speaking calendar, and never again find yourself in a speaking “dry spell.” 

That’s what makes stageside leads so valuable. 

Referrals aren’t as immediate, but they are still very valuable. Referrals happen when someone who saw you speak recommends you to a friend or colleague. Although these leads didn’t actually witness your performance, they consider hiring you because they trust the person who referred you. 

Referrals are powerful—in fact, the top three ways event organizers find speakers is by referral. 

These leads come weeks or even months after the event (sometimes they even arrive years after you spoke). But it’s all because your speech was so powerful and so memorable that someone recommended it. 

The most effective recommendations are from executives. These power players hold the purse strings and have more reach and influence than other audience members. When you get referrals from executives who’ve seen you speak, that’s a clear sign you have a powerful, effective, and referable speech. 

Consistently uplevel your speech.

Stageside leads are an excellent external metric for speakers to use. But you’re not always going to get a lot of stageside leads, especially in the beginning. So what do you do then? How can you measure your speech? 

You can focus on upleveling your speech—making each performance better than the last by focusing on specific performance, delivery, and content aspects to improve. This constant drive for improvement is an intrinsic metric you can use to measure your speech.  

First, make sure you are really clear on what you intend to do. Prepare your speech and rehearse. Then write out what your personal expectations are for the actual performance and delivery of your speech.

Maybe it’s to deliver your signature bit just like you rehearsed it. 

Perhaps you want to focus on blocking and staging like you’ve been working on in rehearsal. 

Maybe you want to improve your use of operative words and beats to sharpen your delivery. 

Whatever it is you want to do, establish expectations. Choose how you want to uplevel your speech, and after you finish your speech, analyze the video (always record your speeches) to determine if you accomplished it.

You see, you’ll never do better on stage than you’ve done in your best rehearsal. With adrenaline pumping through your veins and thousands of eyes focused on you, you might feel like you’ve just done something supernatural and absolutely mind-blowing. 

But the reality is this: on stage, you perform how you rehearse. So ask yourself: Did you do what you planned on doing? Did you do what you were prepared to do? 

If you did, you can be proud of the work you are doing. If you didn’t, you can work to improve in that specific area to keep upleveling your speech.

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HEROIC partner Andrew Davis measures the effectiveness of his speech using stageside leads.

Set your goal today. 

Whether you want to uplevel a certain aspect of your speech or earn a certain number of stageside leads, setting goals can help you determine how effective your speech really is. 

My good friend and HEROIC partner Andrew Davis set a goal to receive three stageside leads after every speech he delivers. Not only does this create a constant flow of leads into his speaking business, it also helps him objectively rate the success of his speech. 

A few weeks ago, he told me that after speaking at a recent event, he thought to himself “that he didn’t do so well.” But as soon as he stepped offstage, he was welcomed by a crowd of enthusiastic event attendees. And in that crowd were three people who came up to him and asked him to speak—that’s right, three new stageside leads. Goal accomplished. 

Subjectively, Andrew felt that his speech wasn’t as great as it could have been. But objectively, he achieved his stageside lead goal, meaning his speech was a success. 

When you use stageside leads and referrals as a marker for the effectiveness of your speech, you’ll find that you can objectively and accurately measure your performance and your success. 

So, what’s your goal for your next performance? How many stageside leads do you want to receive after giving your speech? What aspect of your performance do you want to uplevel? 

Set a goal today. Decide how you want to measure your speech’s effectiveness and then rehearse and revise your speech to make it more referable and effective. When you do, you’ll find that your speech becomes more powerful, more transformational, and more successful.

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The Best Way to Measure Your Speech

Feedback from event attendees, speaker ratings, and comments from post-event surveys are all very subjective ways to measure the effectiveness of your speech. For a more accurate and objective evaluation, there are a few things you might consider doing.  

Earn stageside leads and referrals. 

To create a sustainable speaking career, every speech you give should generate new speaking gigs for you. That happens when you have a referable speech that earns you new inquiries we like to call stageside leads

Stageside leads are people that come up to you after you walk off stage and ask you to speak at their event—and who provide three specific things: the name of the event, the date, and an invitation to speak or connect. 

Usually, these event attendees will say something like this: 

“Oh my gosh! That was amazing. Your speech would be perfect for our company conference. Are you available on November 15th, and what’s your fee?” 

Stageside leads are a clear indicator of future success. If you can generate a few stageside leads every time you speak, you’ll fill up your speaking calendar, and never again find yourself in a speaking “dry spell.” 

That’s what makes stageside leads so valuable. 

Referrals aren’t as immediate, but they are still very valuable. Referrals happen when someone who saw you speak recommends you to a friend or colleague. Although these leads didn’t actually witness your performance, they consider hiring you because they trust the person who referred you. 

Referrals are powerful—in fact, the top three ways event organizers find speakers is by referral. 

These leads come weeks or even months after the event (sometimes they even arrive years after you spoke). But it’s all because your speech was so powerful and so memorable that someone recommended it. 

The most effective recommendations are from executives. These power players hold the purse strings and have more reach and influence than other audience members. When you get referrals from executives who’ve seen you speak, that’s a clear sign you have a powerful, effective, and referable speech. 

Consistently uplevel your speech.

Stageside leads are an excellent external metric for speakers to use. But you’re not always going to get a lot of stageside leads, especially in the beginning. So what do you do then? How can you measure your speech? 

You can focus on upleveling your speech—making each performance better than the last by focusing on specific performance, delivery, and content aspects to improve. This constant drive for improvement is an intrinsic metric you can use to measure your speech.  

First, make sure you are really clear on what you intend to do. Prepare your speech and rehearse. Then write out what your personal expectations are for the actual performance and delivery of your speech.

Maybe it’s to deliver your signature bit just like you rehearsed it. 

Perhaps you want to focus on blocking and staging like you’ve been working on in rehearsal. 

Maybe you want to improve your use of operative words and beats to sharpen your delivery. 

Whatever it is you want to do, establish expectations. Choose how you want to uplevel your speech, and after you finish your speech, analyze the video (always record your speeches) to determine if you accomplished it.

You see, you’ll never do better on stage than you’ve done in your best rehearsal. With adrenaline pumping through your veins and thousands of eyes focused on you, you might feel like you’ve just done something supernatural and absolutely mind-blowing. 

But the reality is this: on stage, you perform how you rehearse. So ask yourself: Did you do what you planned on doing? Did you do what you were prepared to do? 

If you did, you can be proud of the work you are doing. If you didn’t, you can work to improve in that specific area to keep upleveling your speech.

X Mark icon
Dont
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Do

Set your goal today. 

Whether you want to uplevel a certain aspect of your speech or earn a certain number of stageside leads, setting goals can help you determine how effective your speech really is. 

My good friend and HEROIC partner Andrew Davis set a goal to receive three stageside leads after every speech he delivers. Not only does this create a constant flow of leads into his speaking business, it also helps him objectively rate the success of his speech. 

A few weeks ago, he told me that after speaking at a recent event, he thought to himself “that he didn’t do so well.” But as soon as he stepped offstage, he was welcomed by a crowd of enthusiastic event attendees. And in that crowd were three people who came up to him and asked him to speak—that’s right, three new stageside leads. Goal accomplished. 

Subjectively, Andrew felt that his speech wasn’t as great as it could have been. But objectively, he achieved his stageside lead goal, meaning his speech was a success. 

When you use stageside leads and referrals as a marker for the effectiveness of your speech, you’ll find that you can objectively and accurately measure your performance and your success. 

So, what’s your goal for your next performance? How many stageside leads do you want to receive after giving your speech? What aspect of your performance do you want to uplevel? 

Set a goal today. Decide how you want to measure your speech’s effectiveness and then rehearse and revise your speech to make it more referable and effective. When you do, you’ll find that your speech becomes more powerful, more transformational, and more successful.

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