Presenting Step 1 – Do You Know Your Audience?

In reflecting on my public speaking career, when I heard about the opportunity to either submit a proposal or was asked to present, I often jumped right into documenting “here’s what I know and can deliver” and started outlining the overview. In recent years, however, I’ve realized that my “marketing” hat needs to come on first and foremost before dumping my knowledge into Microsoft.

In a nutshell, I needed to understand my audience – where they are in their career, expectations, why bother coming to see me, etc. – before finalizing a title and description.

Below is a simple questionaire you can use as a tool to research who you are about to meet to help better focus what it is you will present to an audience you have probably never met in your life.

You probably do not have all the answers to the below yourself, so do your homework with event organizers, who asked you to speak, colleagues who have presented to this audience before, a potential attendee or two and internet surfing.

1. Who is the target audience?

  • estimate age range
  • estimate career level/experience
  • particular geographic area
  • particular career field
  • general title(s) at companies
  • general responsibilities at work

2. What are the top three reasons why the audience would attend a presentation like this?

3. What are the top three things the audience is expected to leave with (knowledge, call to action, handouts etc.)?

4. What 10 words related to this presentation would “resonate” with the target audience (this is to encourage them to attend if they saw the word in the title or description of the presentation)?

5. What are 5 words to avoid?

6. What 2-3 things matter most to the target audience in terms of speaker credibility?

7. How will this session be marketed?

8. How good/bad were previous speakers/presentations to this target audience on this or similar topics – did the speaker/conversation meet or surpass expectations?

Have any other questions or thoughts on tuning into your audience? Feel free to email me or add a comment below.

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