– Number of native-born Italians living in Manhattan’s Little Italy, according to the 2010 Census: 0
– Of native-born Chinese: 3,127
[Citation: U.S. Census Bureau (Suitland, Md.)]
This pair of statistics (again, derived from Harper’s Magazine Harper’s Index– we recommend taking a look!) highlights yet another crucial contemplation for the presenter. Let’s consider the first statistic as a question rather than a statement. How many native-born Italians do you think are living in Manhattan’s Little Italy? The first answer to come to mind might be most, or a majority of the population. And in terms of blindly guessing, such an answer would be a reasonable, intuitive even.
But then take a look at the answer to the question: Zero. And further complicating and nuancing the original question, it turns out that number of native-born Chinese people living in Little Italy is more than three thousand. That’s unexpected, more than likely not in line with our initial assumption.
So therein lies the takeaway: Don’t assume anything about your audience. You may be speaking in southern Georgia and not have a single Southerner in the audience, just as you might be in Manhattan’s Little Italy and not have a single native-born Italian in the crowd.
Spend time researching who will be in the audience during your presentation. Know specifics about them: what do they like, what do they care about, what will be the typical demographic, etc. This is important for two reasons. The first is what the pair of statistics above has taught us: Never assume anything about your audience; you may be completely off base regardless of the intuitiveness about your assumption. The second is that after completing this initial research, you must tailor your presentation specifically to that audience with whom you’ve become very familiar.
The most important thing to keep in mind while working on your presentation is the audience. Because they are the people– the individuals– to whom you are pitching, persuading and educating. You must be very mindful and conscious of their particular questions and concerns if you want your message to resonate at all.