Knowing your audience before you walk into a presentation will cue you into about the tone, length, engagement, and delivery of your content. For instance, imagine the difference between presenting to a group of football players versus a few astronauts. Even if your audience isn’t so extreme, here are a few questions that will help you better understand them:
How Many People Will Be There?
The size of the audience will require much more than just a change in vocal volume. Will you need to move around or require a sound system? Preparing for this can also decrease stage fright when you walk into a room and realize that there are a more people than anticipated. Furthermore, asking questions or providing other kinds of engagement may not always be possible, depending on the size.
Is There a Theme for the Event?
Don’t be the presenter who showed up in a tuxedo to a pool party. Different events will require you to alter your content accordingly. Flexibility is the key word here; be prepared to change what is necessary by not clinging to your original plan.
How Much Does the Audience Know?
Is the audience already an expert in your field, or are they completely new to the material? Attention spans will dwindle if your presentation relies on jargon that sounds like a foreign language. Research your audience in order to avoid either confusing or talking down to them. Take a lesson from Steve Jobs, who found a way to use common language to describe complicated technology.
What Does the Audience Want to Hear?
A supplementary question to this would be, “what did the audience come here to see?” Craft your content to reach those goals, and they will leave feeling like they’ve learned something new. We all have a limited time on this planet, and there is no need to waste an hour of it sharing content that doesn’t interest the audience.
Have You Introduced Yourself?
Before the event begins, take some time to meet members of the audience and gauge their personalities. You may have already done research about the crowd, but could be surprised that the potentially stuffy CEOs are in fact crazy for knock-knock jokes.
Are There Any No-No’s?
Are there any controversial topics you should avoid, or jokes you shouldn’t share? People relate to people who share similar values, so pretend your presentation is Christmas dinner with a diverse family and avoid hot topics that may offend.
Considering the audience is vital as you prepare for your presentation because personalities can be as diverse as colors of nail polish. Your practice will be worth nothing if you can’t make a connection with your audience; make sure that you step into that room completely prepared.
Question: How can you learn more about your audience?