Whether your presentations are to sell, inform, persuade, or inspire, you must understand how to organize your presentation with your audience in mind. Many presenters focus on their content and not enough on what their audience needs or wants to hear.
Here are three steps to ensure you achieve your goal of selling, informing, persuading or inspiring while meeting your audience’s needs as well:
Step 1: Your Audience
Any presentation you give will be vastly different based on your audience’s requirements. In fact, you wouldn’t know what to talk about until you’d gained some basic information about your audience. The first question to ask yourself should always be “Who?” rather than “What?”
To understand why you need to do this, ask yourself, “What would I say in my subject area if I were talking to my child’s 4th grade class? To freshmen college students in my field? To fellow professionals at an industry conference? To a government panel considering legislation in my industry?
Ask yourself how much your audience knows, and how much they need to know. Avoid information dumping. What are the expectations, preferences, and values of your audience? Is there an emotional context that may have an impact on whether and how your message is received?
Step 2: Purpose
Once you understand your listeners, you must decide on your specific purpose in speaking to this audience. Stop, step back and say, “Why am I speaking to these people, and what do I want to accomplish with them?” It’s not enough to say, “Well, I’ve been told I need to speak to this audience about this topic, so that’s what I’m doing.”
Having completed an audience analysis (Step 1), you now have a workable knowledge of the desires and expectations of your audience, making it easier to design a purpose that will work for both you and your listeners.
Use an infinitive phrase and make it active: “To demonstrate to and test this group on using the new software.” “To motivate my sales team to come up with an approach to finding new leads.” Remember: Your presentation needs to be purpose-driven and action-oriented.
Step 3: Engagement
For every presentation, you need to determine how you are going to engage your audience. Throwing out information is not a strategy for success. Do you want to change hearts and minds? Sell a product or service? Entertain? Think about how you will engage, entice, entertain, and generally seduce your audience. That means understanding and succeeding at performing your presentation. You don’t have to become an Oscar-worthy actor. But you do need to think about building in activities, questions, exercises, visuals and other elements to go beyond information delivery to actively keep your audience with you and enjoying your presentation.
Taking a little extra time to consider your audience and goals rather than just focusing on your content will make you a much better – and more appreciated – presenter!