Presenters are from Mars, Audiences are from Venus

How wide is the gap between how you see yourself as a presenter, and how your audience sees you? Probably very wide, according to a survey conducted by Andy Goodman for his new book coming out in December, When Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes.

In a survey of 2,500 people described in his recent PDF newsletter, Andy tallied the percentages of respondents who rated typical presentation elements “good to excellent” for presentations they give. Then he tallied the percentages of respondents who rated the same parts "good to excellent" for presentations they attend. The results:


According to Andy:

"As you can see, respondents consistently gave themselves higher marks, with nearly half believing their presentations fell into the good to excellent range overall. They were far less generous to their colleagues, however, with less than a fifth earning good to excellent scores. These numbers suggest that audiences are frequently dissatisfied with what they see, but presenters simply aren’t getting the message. And that may be one reason why bad presentations continue to plague good causes."

This is important information that should give all of us PowerPoint pause, as we step back from the remote and start thinking about how to close the gap between perception and reality.

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5 Responses to “Presenters are from Mars, Audiences are from Venus”

  1. Another thought came to me regarding the people responding to this survey. What if the respondents were either NOT presenters or NOT attendees? Wouldn’t that skew the results some? If I was bored with a presentation, but didn’t necessarily give presentations myself, I’d think my opinion would be every bit as important as a presenter who basically was comparing their own abilities with those of the presenter they are watching.

    I see that they survey was for “public interest professionals”. I would think that one could be a “public interest professional” without being proficient in Power Point. So, I’m not quite certain of the criteria for taking the survey.

    I just think there’s a bit of a problem when someone with a certain skill gives an “educated”opinion of others through their skewed opinion of what that skill “should” look like. Just my opinion . . .

  2. cliff says:

    Good points. This is probably most useful for taking the temperature of the general communications culture, rather than measuring the gap for specific presenters and audiences. Hopefully Andy will make the data available along with his book in December, so we can take a closer look at the responses and how they break out.

  3. Bert says:

    Good points, Cliff. As a person who presents regularly, I rarely receive feedback data due to my presentations being “in-house”. I also understand that it’s easy to have an inflated view of one’s abilities in front of an audience. That’s why I use Toastmasters International, as I find honest, and sometimes unfavorable, feedback is routinely shared with the speakers. Many of us use Toastmasters to hone a presentation that we are preparing for work. The feedback is invaluable.

  4. cliff says:

    I totally agree Bert – Toastmasters is fantastic – I highly recommend it.

  5. Ken Burns says:

    Now, it takes a big person to look at a own speaker survey score, and the comments. I know I find it hard. Speaking is hard as is.
    However, as an event organizer you need to know whom to invite next year. We have incorporated in our Conference mobile app (check us out at a feature for rating the presnetation, and also including comments, right from the iPhone, Ipad or Android mobile devices. A screenshot on the link below.
    To be sure we protect the egos, the feature can also be turned off for presentations.

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