Get to Know Your Presentation Audience

How do you resonate with your audience?

It’s official: The guidance you got from your high school speech teacher is now obsolete.  Instead, you should imagine them wearing bright stockings and tunics emblazoned with superhero emblems—because the people in the audience are the heroes who will bring your big idea to fruition.

To genuinely connect with your audience, you need to know what makes them tick.  What strikes them as funny?  What makes them sad?  What unites them?  What will cause them to rise up and act?  What is it that makes them deserve to win in life?  So how do you get to know thme and really understand what their lives are like?  It’s important to figure this out because according to the former AT&T presentation research manager, Ken Hamer,

Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it to ‘to whom it may concern.’

Though your heroes might be lumped together in a room you shouldn’t view them as a homogeneous blob.  Instead of thinking about the audience as a unified clump when preparing your presentation, imagine them as a line of individuals waiting to have face-to-face conversations with you.

You want to make each person feel like you’re having a personal exchange with him or her;  it will help you speak in a conversational tone, which will keep them interested.  People don’t fall asleep during conversations (unless your conversations are boring, too.  If so, you need help beyond what this book provides).

An audience is a temporary assembly of individuals who, for an hour or so, share one thing in common: your presentation.  They are all listening to the same message at the same moment; yet all of them are filtering it differently and gleaning their own unique insights, points of emphasis, and meaning.  If you find common ground from which to communicate, their filter will more readily accept your perspective.

You need to get to know these folks.  You are their mentor!  Each one has unique skills, vulnerabilities, and even a nemesis or two.  The audience must be your focus while you create the content of your presentation.  So, stop thinking about yourself, and start thinking about connecting with them.