Several weeks ago, I wrote about 4 of the most important questions that you should ask yourself while preparing a presentation (press here to check it), and today we will speak about another important fundamental……The Audience.
The audience is a significant factor in the success of any presentation. So how do you determine what your audience needs, and how can you address your speech and presentation in a way which can be understood and be appealing to them?
Before you start collecting data for your presentation, you should ask yourself:
1- Who is my audience (ex: background, gender, average age…etc.)?
2- What is their general mood and feelings in the meantime as well as during the time that I will be presenting? Are they under pressure? Is their Company/Department performing good or is it losing and passing through a critical time?
3- What is the most important concern or question which my presentation should answer?
4- If I have an audience with mixed backgrounds, how can I try to find the magic middle and try to satisfy the needs of the majority of attendees?
5- What do I want them to do, know or feel after I finish my presentation?
One of the biggest mistakes business professionals make, is using the same presentation to address different audiences. They create a presentation with the purpose of presenting it to their Marketing colleagues as an example, and when someone with an Engineering or Procurement background asks them to present this information, they present it exactly as it is without customizing it based on the NEW audience needs.
You may ask: ‘’Do I need to make an extra effort and customize my presentation based on each type of audience?’’, and I will answer by asking you: ‘’Is the picture below for a young woman or an old lady?’’
You may see an old lady in the above picture, but if you focused a little bit or even asked one of your friends, he may tell you that he sees a picture of a young lady. Same picture, two interpretations, and both are right.
This means that two people sitting beside each other can see the details differently and hence base their arguments on different assumptions. The picture is the same, but the people comprehend it differently. And this is just a picture. So what do you think about people from different departments who do different work and also care about different information? The same information which can be very beneficial for a department or a person can be not interesting or unuseful to another and can be interpreted differently.
Now, let us go back to the example that I mentioned few paragraphs above and build on it. If you are creating a presentation for the Engineering department, the information, details level and the content that they care about and understand is different than if you are creating your presentation for Sales & Marketing professionals. Engineers want the content to be mainly related to a product specification and to have as many details as possible. Procurement needs to see numbers, costs, and components structure. Sales & Marketing would like to see Market positioning, selling price, value proposition and so on.
If you invited your Engineering colleagues and presented to them the information which you presented previously to the Sales, then you will lose them, and most probably they will not buy in. It is exactly as if you are speaking to them in French while they understand only English.
So the next time you have a presentation, try to answer these five questions in advance and you will see how huge impact they will have on your presentation. And do not forget to let me know the results afterward.