Dr. Fred Mayo explains the three major methods for presentation evaluation: self, peer and professional. An added bonus: ready-made student evaluation form.
By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT
In the last issue, we discussed making interactive presentations and this month we will focus on evaluating presentations. For many of us, encouraging and supporting students in making presentations is already a challenge; assessing their merit is often just another unwelcome teaching chore.
There are three major methods for evaluating presentation – self evaluations, peer evaluations, and professional evaluations. Of course, the most important issue is establishing evaluation criteria.
Criteria for Evaluating Presentations
One of the best ways to help students create and deliver good presentations involves providing them with information about how their presentations will be evaluated. Some of the criteria that you can use to assess presentations include:
- Focus of the presentation
- Clarity and coherence of the content
- Thoroughness of the ideas presented and the analysis
- Clarity of the presentation
- Effective use of facts, statistics and details
- Lack of grammatical and spelling errors
- Design of the slides
- Effective use of images
- Clarity of voice projection and appropriate volume
- Completion of the presentation within the allotted time frame
Feel free to use these criteria or to develop your own that more specifically match your teaching situation.
When teaching public speaking and making presentations, I often encouraged students to rate their own presentations after they delivered them. Many times, they were very insightful about what could have been improved. Others just could not complete this part of the assignment. Sometimes, I use their evaluations to make comments on what they recognized in their presentations. However, their evaluations did not overly influence the grade except that a more thorough evaluation improved their grade and a weak evaluation could hurt their presentation grade.
Questions I asked them to consider included:
- How do you think it went?
- What could you have done differently to make it better?
- What did you do that you are particularly proud of accomplishing?
- What did you learn from preparing for and delivering this presentation?
- What would you change next time?
One way to provide the most feedback for students involves encouraging – or requiring – each student evaluate each other’s presentation. It forces them to watch the presentation both for content and delivery and helps them learn to discriminate between an excellent and an ordinary presentation. The more presentations they observe or watch, the more they learn.
In classes where students are required to deliver presentations, I have students evaluate the presentations they observe using a form I designed. The students in the audience give the evaluation or feedback forms to the presenter as soon as it is over. I do not collect them or review them to encourage honest comments and more direct feedback. Also, students do not use their names when completing the form. That way the presenter gets a picture from all the students in the audience – including me – and cannot discount the comments by recognizing the author.
A version of the form that I use is reproduced below – feel free to adopt or adapt it to your own use and classroom situation.
When conducting your professional evaluation of a presentation, remember to consider when and how to deliver oral comments as opposed to a completed form. I complete a written evaluation (shown above) along with all the students so they get some immediate feedback. I also take notes on the presentation and decide a grade as well. After the conclusion of the presentation, whether it was an individual or team presentation, I lead a class discussion on the presentation material. That way, students get to hear some immediate comments as well as reading the written peer evaluations.
I usually ask for a copy of the presentation prior to the delivery date. (Getting the PowerPoint slides ahead also helps me ensure I have all the presentations loaded on the projector or computer so we do not waste class time.) Students either email it to me or place it on our classroom management system. I will provide their letter grade and make comments on the design of the presentation on the copy they gave me. However, I don’t explain the final grade right after the presentation since it is often hard for students who have just made a presentation to hear comments.
Each of these suggestions may prompt you to try your own ideas. Remember that students improve when they receive thoughtful and useful feedback from their peers and you as their teacher. I encourage you to use this form or develop a form so that the criteria used to evaluate the presentations are clear and explained ahead of time. Now, you can enjoy evaluating their presentations.
Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT, is retired as a clinical professor of hotel and tourism management at New York University. As principal of Mayo Consulting Services, he continues to teach around the globe and is a regular presenter at CAFÉ events nationwide.