You can create the most stunning slides and rehearse until you’re blue in the face. However, none of that will matter if you don’t know who you are talking to. What are their demographics, roles, and knowledge on your topic? How can that affect their attitudes, motivations, and objections?
Why You Must Know Your Audience
Business is all about motivating action. How can you influence if you do not know what is important and relevant to whom you are speaking? To win your listeners’ hearts and minds, you must understand them. Study who is in the room, what’s important to them, their knowledge on the topic, and the objections they may have. With this knowledge, you can create and deliver more dynamic, creative, engaging and relevant communications.
What to Know
If you take the time to consider these questions, you’ll be able to create more relatable and effective content. Take notes on the following areas:
Demographics: Consider the hard-wired facts. What is their age, gender, family life, and role at the company?
Culture: Are there differences in upbringing or their day-to-day interactions that would affect how they respond or receive information?
Needs and Interests: What are their motivations? What’s important to them day to day?
Attitudes: Do they already have an opinion about your topic, you, or your company?
Potential objections: What are one or two potential objections to your topic?
For example, let’s say that you are giving a presentation with technical information. You should consider the technical expertise of the people in the room. Are you presenting to the CMO? If they have low technical expertise, they may feel lost and confused by the technical jargon. A CMO, VP of HR, and a CIO have a very different focus on what is considered important on their radar screen. To be the most effective, you must meet your listeners at their level.
Tangible Methods to Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience requires great empathy, humility, curiosity, and patience. You may need to dig around or take an educated guess for information. To paint a picture of your listeners, below are potential methods and sources.
Before the event:
Talk to the organizer about who’s attending
Research the company or event website
View the audience list on social media
At the meeting or event:
Greet at the door: If you’re able to meet your audience beforehand, you can ask questions in order to know what’s important to them. The bonus to this method is that this humanizes them and your acquaintances become friendly faces in the audience.
Call and response: You can warm-up your audience and uncover their positions and motivations by calling-out key questions, then white boarding and responding to them.
Put it into Practice
When planning for any important presentation, meeting, or phone call, first go through a systematic analysis of your potential listener(s). This will lead to important clues regarding the most effective communication approach to use, appropriate language selection, examples, and level of detail to cover that will save time and embarrassment.
If you consistently practice it, your presentations will be more strategic, creative, and dynamic. You can reach them on a deeper level when you understand their demographics, needs and interests, and attitudes.
Always remember that a presentation isn’t all about you. It’s about your audience.
Become a Strategic Presenter
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