Have you ever sat in the audience of a presentation or speech and felt like the presenter was specifically addressing you? That he or she understood your view of the topic and was answering all of your questions? That’s because the presenter did a great deal of preparation beforehand to understand their audience – and you should do this when you present, too.
By simply taking the time to understand the motivation, needs, wants, and desires of your future audience, you can tailor the content of your speech and adapt it to meet their exact needs. This can take your speech from a good experience to a great one.
To figure out the needs of your audience, consider the following questions while preparing:
- How much does the audience already know about this topic?– How much prior experience have they had with the topic of your presentation? Do they know enough to skip past the introduction and explanations, or can you skip forward to the more complicated topics? Starting at the right level of information can make the world of difference to audience members, as they won’t be bored listening to information they already know nor will they be confused with new, complex information.
- How does the audience feel about the topic?– Is this topic somewhat controversial or could it stir up different emotions from audience members? Do people generally agree on the issues surrounding it or do they divide the room?
- What are the biggest challenges that they are facing when it comes to this matter?– Are these problems at an individual level or are they industry-wide? Where do the issues exist within the company? What are the pain points? Thinking about these challenges is a common tactic in successful sales, but it should also be a step in your presentation preparation process.
- How much detail do they actually want?– Is your audience expecting to be an expert on your topic when they leave the room, or do they just want to know the basics? Figuring out which level of detail they are expecting you to delve into will help you build your presentation.
Finding out the answers to these inquiries will take a bit of effort and research, but will pay off on presentation day when your audience feels like you really know them. If you can’t find the answers that you are looking for, you can always open the presentation with a few questions of your own to gauge the existing expectations of the room and work from there.