In this video, you'll learn a two-step process. Step one is to uncover exactly who your audience is and why they're listening to you. Step two is to understand their needs and concerns. When you go through the two-step process, you're able to share information with a more enthusiastic audience.
- The minute you step in front of an audience, you have the opportunity to connect and motivate them about your topic. However, there's a process to understanding who they are, their needs and concerns, and ultimately what will excite them. That occurs long before you take the stage or enter into a meeting room. In my experience, the best way to connect with your audience is to do your research before your presentation. Your homework includes a two-step process.
First, know your audience right down to their demographics and why they're listening to you. Second, figure out what concerns them, such as their critical issues, hot buttons, and touchy subjects, if any, around your topic of discussion. So, before you go in front of any audience for a meeting, seminar, keynote, or company presentation, here's what you need to ask and then answer to successfully connect, understand, and excite any group.
Step one, you must get to know your audience a little more by answering these questions. Did this group choose you as their speaker to gather additional knowledge on a topic? Or, have they been mandated to listen to the information that you're going to share? Here's a tip, this is key information that often sets the tone for any type of presentation. It's the, "I want to listen" versus the "I have to listen." What is their role in the meeting? Is it part of their work, networking, extra curricular activities? What is their position in the company, and how much do you know about their industry? Here's another tip.
Understanding the active role they play or their professional motivation for attending the meeting helps you to uncover any professional issues that could arise. How much do you know about their demographics? Age, income, location, occupation, and education. Chances are there could be cultural or even geographic biases, so getting a really clear picture of your target audience members will help you to speak directly and more emphatically with them.
The more you understand your audience, you can express yourself and deliver on a level that they can better relate to you. Step two, knowing the who part really helps you to uncover the next level of understanding, which is based on your audience's needs, concerns, or critical issues. Here are the questions that you should ask and answer. Have other speakers presented to this group before, and what was the audience's level of understanding? You can also ask for access to any information on past presentation and audience reactions.
Survey results are really helpful if they're available. Were there any past issues that came up around your topic? What were the comments and the questions, and how were they answered? How were any touchy subjects treated? Did the audience want to address these topics more deeply? Even go beyond the scope of your presentation. If you have access to an event coordinator or a work supervisor, ask for more in depth information about your discussion topic, whether it's been well received or not appreciated by this audience.
You can even take it a step further and ask if there's any video footage so you can watch how the group interacts with other presenters. Let me share an example. I was teaching a social media champion building workshop for a New York City PR agency. About a month prior, the agency's employees had participated in a social media boot camp. Of course, the first question I asked was whether they videotaped the session and if I could watch the program to get a feel for employee reaction and their level of participation.
So luckily they did videotape, and I studied several hours of video footage. I watched employee body language and the line of questioning for the presenter. I could tell these participants were not comfortable, familiar, and at times even confused with certain topics, including data analytics, and measuring program success. This really helped me to better relate to this audience, and adapt my presentation style to their needs. But, if I hadn't asked for the video, then I wouldn't have known this critical information.
Lastly, when it comes to any topics with associated issues, are you prepared with answers to the questions you hope don't surface during your presentation? Because this is exactly what you should prepare for. My best advice is to have the answers to the tough questions ready, the ones you don't want your audience members to ask. Then, you'll be ready to answer anything. Now, think about the last time you presented to an audience. How well did you know the people? Did you understand their needs, concerns, and critical issues? The next time you're getting ready to present, you can review the two-step process.
If you take the time to answer all of the questions, then you may find it easier to understand any group, navigate their issues, and share your information with a much more enthusiastic audience.
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- Neutralizing negative audience members
- Capturing attention
- Managing hecklers
- Sticking to your agenda
- Addressing tough questions