Pre-Presentation Setup- Meeting the Audience

Pre-Presentation Setup- Meeting the Audience

Contrary to popular belief, your presentation doesn’t have to start the moment you begin speaking.  Your presentation can actually begin long before you take the stage. Thanks to technology, there are plenty of ways to get your audience excited long before you ever walk up to the podium.  You can begin posting previews and information on various social media channels to get your audience excited about your upcoming presentation. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the opportunity to get to know your audience before your presentation begins.  This is all part of your pre-presentation setup.  Here are a few reasons why it is so important to meet your audience before your presentation and examples of how you can do so.

Have you ever listened to a speaker who is clearly giving the same presentation that they have given several times before? If so, you understand just how generic and impersonal it can feel.  The information is vague and there are certainly no details that speak to your specific audience or situation. There’s a good chance you tuned out pretty quickly because you didn’t feel a connection with the speaker.  After all, they weren’t talking to you.  They were simply talking to a general audience.  Connecting with your audience is vital to giving an engaging and persuasive presentation.  You need to spend some time gathering information about their demographics, their positions, and their needs and challenges.  This allows you to cater your presentation to your audience in a way that feels personal. This is the key to captivating their attention.

Here are a few things you need to know about your audience in order to make the most of your time with them.  

  • What is the general age of your audience?
  • Is this a formal or informal crowd?
  • Do they have the same types of jobs and positions?
  • Is everyone local or are they from different parts of the country?
  • Do they share a common interest?
  • Why are they here? What do they hope to learn?

You can conduct audience analysis in a few different ways.  For starters you can do a little research to find out more about who your audience is and why they are there.  Next, you can follow up by emailing your audience members a pre-presentation questionnaire. This is an opportunity for them to provide you with general information about themselves as well as what they hope to learn from your presentation.  This information can then be used to personalize your presentation and modify it according to their specific needs. Finally, you should spend some time visiting with your audience before your presentation begins. Think of it like a “Meet and Greet” where you can mingle and engage in conversation with individual guests.  This personal touch will help you to build a rapport with the audience and the information you gather can also help you engage with them during your presentation. The next time you are preparing for a presentation, remember that what happens before the presentation is just as important as what happens during it.