Know your audience

When I speak about preparing to get ready for a presentation, one of the 3 levels of preparation that I always get people to focus on is to “know your audience”. Get as much information as you can about the audience and then you can ensure that the content is targeted, you dress at the right level, and all material is culturally appropriate.

Getting to know your audience makes it easier to present and I always try and meet and greet each individual with a welcoming smile and handshake. They say it is easier to speak to friends or people that you know, than it is to complete strangers. Try and get to know your audiences before you speak to them. Use Google, use annual reports and mission statements, check out their web page and use your networks to see if anyone else knows a little about the audience.

A good checklist to follow to ensure that you know your audience includes:

  • Who was the last speaker to speak at that audience or forum and what did they speak on?
  • What is the mission and values of the group that you are talking to?
  • What size will the audience be?
  • What demographics do you need to know including age, educational background, and socio economic status?
  • Are there any cultural or racial considerations you need to think about?
  • What questions are you likely to be asked from this group?
  • Will your material be contentious or controversial in any way to this audience? Are they going to be on your side or against your point of view?
  • What are need and requirements from you talk and how are you going to ensure you meet those expectations.

This checklist will hold you in good stead when preparing to speak before any audience.

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