Presentation: Overall Effectiveness

This article discusses my conception of overall effectiveness as a metric of success in many areas but focused on presentations. After a general introduction, it focuses upon understanding the way content and delivery are integrated to be successful to attain a goal for a specified target in a given situation.


“Communication is a negotiation (between the creator of the message and the target audience) to attain understanding.”

James Lipuma

I have explored many areas as I worked to teach students effectively about many diverse topics. As an engineer, social scientist, and educational researcher, I found I sought common processes, foundational definitions, and core messages in all the subjects I taught. I sought to understand the learning situation and my own goals in order to match that of my students, the target audience of my work as I sought to be effective and thus successful. However, these concepts seemed to arise in all aspects of my work. Leaders take responsibility for effectively attaining a goal for their target group within a situation. Communicators of all types seek to attain the goal of conveying a message to a target audience in a given situation. In the end, the idea of effectiveness being connected to goals, targets and situation led me to look at communication as a central lever in many other areas. In the end, overall effectiveness in one’s presentation relies on an understanding of how to  connect content with delivery by integrating  them in a way to attain one’s goal with the chosen target, in a given situation.  

Effectiveness as a Holistic Measure

To reach a higher level of sophistication in our discussion, we will go beyond this and begin to examine the integration of choices needed to increase effective delivery. This becomes even more important when the presentation is not as clearly specified or the presenter is assumed to know what to do. Typically people encounter this in many work situations and higher level educational environments. The idea of a holistic picture of what it means to be effective often is not examined fully and so it defaults to a binary measure of content covered and how it was delivered. This can then be reduced to an error check and a personal ‘feel for how it went.’ As a way to understand the process, teaches= others to be effective and most of all, work to understand and improve, this set of metrics falls woefully short.

Overall Effectiveness in Communication

For all types of communication products (written essays, oral reports, multimedia presentations, movies, stories, etc.), an overall effectiveness measures resulting products based mainly on the content and its delivery.  Many times the material to present is assigned. In other cases, educators sit as subject experts judging a presentation after parameters are provided (with varying levels of detail and support). Typically, if a rubric is provided it  details aspects of content to be covered and  how the delivery is rated. Outside father classroom, many different metrics apply to varied situations but when examined with a model of communication that focuses upon the choices made by the creator, the process comes down to effectiveness of attaining their goal as a metric of success. (Cite GOOPS)

Overall Effectiveness in Presentations

Starting with the idea that a presentation relies upon a message, medium and the moment of its delivery (Cite 3Ms), the creator must consider both the content and the delivery. Content then covers what is covered and to what extent. This reflects the intellectual merit and  level of material the creator seeks to convey as well as the takeaway at the end of the presentation. With that comes the delivery or the way it is to be conveyed both visually and orally. AAs mentioned above, this dichotomy  serves as the sum total for many  as they conceive of the process of presenting content to a target in any given situation. However, to understand effective communication, the way these two aspects are integrate provide a more sophisticated approach to the process. In order to clarify the processes involved and aspects to be reviewed, other articles have discussed the production model (cite P3) and the aspects  necessary as one prepares to present (Cite SCRIPT)

Bringing Content and Delivery Together

This leads to a more holistic view of the effectiveness of integrated delivery. Though many aspects of this still rely on the content, it focuses on the way the sender leverages aspects of delivery to augment content reception by the target audience in a given situation. The measure of effectiveness for a given communication package relies on the degree to which the target receives the message and acts upon in the way the sender desired. In this way, integration examines how the creator matches content and delivery to the needs of the target in the given situation to integrate them to negotiate an understanding of the desired message. This all works to effectively attain the desired goals and thus successful.

Integrated Effectiveness in Oral Presentations

Table 1.- Areas of Integration for Oral Presentations

Areas of Integration  – Description of Area
Intellectual merit: Content and materials were complete, accurate, and appropriate
Message: Central point was conveyed successfully and received
Intention-Medium-Outcome: The purpose and rationale matched the desired outcome achieved for a given target audience in the specified situation. The message is successfully delivered and acted upon in the way the sender desired based on the content presented.
Spoken materials: Verbal communication used effectively
Shown materials: Nonverbal communication used effectively

Rating Overall Effectiveness

Often, overall effectiveness ratings use a scale 1-10. In addition, other general areas of concern are included like content, delivery, professionalism, creativity, group dynamics, handling questions, etc.  For each situation, the judge (almost always the educator) weights these differently and adds in varying level of details and indicators to this list. However, that does not always lead to effective feedback or productive learning about how to improve. Generic measures of overall effectiveness with supporting criteria connected to narrow aspects of the assigned topic tend to leave the student searching for guidance or requiring more detail and conversation during the production of the final work.


I examined the components of overall effectiveness related to the integration of delivery with content as it relates to oral presentations. For essays, there are many works that describe the ways to examine topics to develop coherent final products (arguments, persuasive essays, summaries, etc.). However, for oral presentations, this long history of examination, and supported discussion is not as well developed. Moreover, the universal nature of the common ideas of speaking may lead to a less rigorous examination of the processes. At the same time, many students do not approach oral presentations as a form of constructed creation in the same way as they might a formal essay with mechanisms for structure, design, development, revision, and proofing like those used when writing. This article presented my argument for overall effectiveness as the central metric for oral presentations to provide a scaffolder set of tools to help students learn and educators teach and assess with a common vocabulary and perspective.