I’m on a voyage to learn more about great presentations as part of the American Evaluation Association’s new Potent Presentations Initiative (P2i).

Here’s a guest post by my former supervisor, Isaac Castillo. Isaac is one of the most talented public speakers in the evaluation and performance management field. In fact, I watched this video a few days before I interviewed with him and was sold by his comfort in front of the camera. I thought to myself, “Here’s a guy who really knows his stuff and can explain it to others!” Unfortunately those skills are much too rare in the evaluation field.

I hope you enjoy reading Isaac’s reflections about presentations.

– Ann Emery


“Good presenters, and good storytellers, can work their magic in any setting, using many things (or nothing) to help communicate their points. So the best presenters have to be flexible enough to respond to their audience, their environment, and the pace of their presentation.

On Sunday, I delivered an opening plenary for a national conference, and got through the first part with good audience feedback and energy. But I noticed a lag in interest halfway through my time, and did something rarely done: I stopped and encouraged the audience of 100+ to take a break. There was no break called for in the schedule, but I read the audience and recognized that if they were to get the most out of my last few messages, they needed to relax for a few minutes and come back refreshed.

I think most presenters focus on their content – and will deliver this content in the way they think is best. The BEST presenters focus on their audience – and these presenters will rarely deliver the same content in the same way. They will make changes based on what they read their audience and environment to be at the time.”

– Isaac Castillo