Your goal in presenting to a group is either to inform, persuade, or entertain your audience. However, in order to achieve any of these objectives, you need to know a little bit about your audience. What is their role? What is their goal in being there? What are their likes and dislikes? Knowing this information allows you to make adjustments and tailor the content so you will better connect with your audience. Every audience is unique and different so you presentation should reflect their specific needs. By identifying the audience, you can use that valuable information to design a relevant and effective presentation. There are several things you can do to prepare and research your audience before your presentation that will help you to adjust your presentation to better connect with your listeners.
Research the Audience in Advance
Prior to your presentation, speak to the organizer of the meeting to find out who will be in attendance. At this time, you should find out their role or title, their level of knowledge on the topic, and why they are attending your presentation. Furthermore, this is a good time to gather information about the demographics of the audience including age, gender, background, etc. If you are presenting to an industry or a specific company, research the industry and familiarize yourself with the company’s mission. Learn as much as you can by researching the corporation’s website, reading reports, and reviewing their blogs.
Conduct a Meet and Greet
If you weren’t able to find out much information about your audience ahead of time, you will have to collect as much information as you can at the beginning of the presentation with a meet and greet with the audience. Introduce yourself and learn their names and roles, and also ask a few questions about their level of knowledge and expectations for the presentation. Though you won’t have much time to plan, you can still make last minute adjustments on the fly based on the information you gather.
Tailor the Content
Have you ever been to a presentation, meeting, or even a church sermon and felt as though the presenter was speaking directly to you? This is because the speaker found a way to connect and engage with you. These kinds of presentations are the most effective because they leave a lasting impression on the audience. You will be better equipped to connect with your audience on this same personal level when you know something about them beforehand and tailor the content to meet their specific needs. For example, a pop culture reference might be a great way to illustrate your point to a room of millennials but it might leave a room of baby boomers quite confused. Know your audience and make sure your presentation is interesting and relevant for that specific audience.
Understanding your audience is the key to delivering an effective presentation. You cannot offer something interesting to your audience unless you know who they are. Learning about your audience is as important as learning about the material you are presenting. To connect with your audience, you need to understand why this topic is important to them and what they expect to take away from your presentation. Whether you are presenting to a room of 20 or 200, there are plenty of things you can do in advance to ensure your presentation is tailored to meet the specific needs of your audience.