“Talk to people about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”
Benjamin Disraeli, 1804 -1888, British Prime Minister
All too often, presenters and speakers become caught up in their own story and fail to find common ground with their audiences. This leaves listeners feeling confused, irritated, bored – or all three! Knowledgeable experts can forget that audiences do not necessarily have the SAME level of knowledge and may fail to offer enlightening explanations. Those enthusiastic about their topics may cram in too much information in a desire to share everything they know. The best way to avoid falling into these traps is to carry out an analysis of your target audience, their needs, interests and motivation as the first step in your preparation.
Top tips to meet audience needs
- Analyse your target audience in advance and use the information to select the right material. Who are they, what motivates them, what do they know, which questions will they want to have answered?
- Have a clear and achievable outcome in mind. Express your outcome in terms of what the audience should do, say, think or feel.
- Answer unspoken questions about yourself or your topic at the start e.g. who is this person, why is this relevant for me…?
- Use an agenda: show them that you have a plan and a structure, referring back to it throughout the presentation.
- Let them know you have done your homework: demonstrate that you understand their viewpoint and connect to it.
- Focus on what they need to know and NOT what you feel compelled to tell them.
- Use their language: match your words and content to THEIR level of knowledge.
- Explain clearly: outline the facts and arguments in a way that makes sense to THEM.
- Use visual support if appropriate. Important messages are easier to remember if they have been seen and not just heard.
- Aim to build relationships. Address the audience directly and use their names.
How to analyse the needs and interests of your target audience forms part of many of our training and coaching programmes – take a look at our Focus Areas.