A fundamental element of good storytelling is knowing your audience. Too often we plan a presentation primarily based on what we want to say without really considering the perspective of the audience. Who are they? Are they familiar with the topic? Do they even want to be there? These are just a few criteria that should influence how we deliver a presentation.
To deliver a message that truly resonates with the audience, it’s important to have a clear understanding of who will be present. Below are eight criteria that may be helpful in developing a solid profile of your audience. Answers to each of the questions should affect the way that you position your message to be as effective as possible.
- RANK – What level of authority will be in your session? Are they entry-level employees, middle managers, senior-level executives or is it a mix?
- FAMILIARITY – How well do you know the attendees? Will this be a group of people you have never met or is the audience made up of people you know well?
- INTERACTION – How well do the attendees know each other? Are they total strangers or do they all know each other pretty well?
- DESIRE – Do the attendees want to be there? Is this a presentation where the attendees are willing and interested in attending? Or, are they required to attend (which means some aren’t happy to be there at all)?
- INFORMED – How familiar is the audience with your topic? Is it something they know really well, or is it a topic that they know nothing about?
- OPENNESS – How open-minded will the audience be? Will they be skeptical, defensive and/or challenging? Or, will they be open to the material you present?
- PROCESSING – How do you think your audience will process information? Are they highly detailed and analytical or will it be a group of conceptual, big-thinkers?
- DIVERSITY – What is the makeup of the audience? Are the participants similar to one another or will you be speaking to a wide variety of people from different backgrounds, different demographics or different departments?
The answers to these questions likely are along a spectrum. You can use the handy form on pages 3 and 4 of this downloadable workbook to plot each of these – it’s a quick way to help you evaluate the perspective of the audience you’ll be addressing
So much rides on each presentation you deliver. Take the time to carefully consider your audience to make sure you position your message in a way that will resonate in the most effective way possible.