The next time you walk down the cereal aisle at the grocery store, pay close attention to the boxes. Some cereal boxes are adorned with playful characters, silly animals, and bursts of color while others are loaded with words like “protein, fiber, whole grain, and calcium.” The purpose of this drastic difference in advertising is simple: an audience. Clearly, those brightly colored boxes with cartoon characters are going to capture the attention of children while adults will be drawn to those health-conscious words. Advertisers understand the importance of marketing to specific audiences and presenters should do the same. When you are giving a presentation it shouldn’t be a “one-size fits all” approach. Every audience is different and will respond differently to information. As a speaker, the best thing you can do is to craft a tailored message to reach your specific audience. Much like a clothing tailor, your presentation should be designed, created, and altered to make sure it is a perfect fit for your audience. Here are some great tips for customizing your next presentation.
Find Out Who Your Audience Is
Are you going to be speaking in front of a board of directors or will you be presenting to fellow colleagues? Is your audience primarily male or female? What is the age range of your audience? It is important to make note of these basic facts before preparing your presentation. A speech given to millennials would differ greatly from one given to senior citizens. Similarly, a group of women might react differently to a joke than a group of men. Understanding the demographics of your audience allows you to tailor your content more specifically.
Interact with the Crowd
Stand-up comedians will often open their show by asking a couple where they are from or how long they have been married. They might even make a humorous statement about someone else’s appearance. You can adopt this same philosophy when giving a presentation. You can warm up the crowd by asking an audience member to share some information about his or herself and then find a way to relate it to your topic.
Find Out What Motivates Your Audience
When you are preparing a presentation your goal should be to answer any questions that the audience might have. You want to anticipate what they are hoping to learn and give that information to them. You might even consider polling your audience ahead of time to find out what information is most important to them. You want to keep your content relevant.
Meet and Greet
Arrive well in advance so you can spend some time mingling with the crowd. It can be helpful to introduce yourself and ask questions like, “What brings you here?” You can even ask questions that are specific to your topic and poll your audience quickly to see where they are at and how you can help them. Conversing with the crowd also helps you to connect with your audience and build a rapport with them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be Spontaneous
Before you present, make sure you know your content thoroughly, but don’t memorize your script. Leave a little wiggle room so you can tailor the content on the fly. This strategy requires you to be more spontaneous, but it will make your presentation seem more natural and the audience will find it more relatable.