Once you have prepared a well-thought of and crafted presentation, then it should be enough regardless of who your audience may be, right? Wrong. What makes a presentation effective are not only your slides and delivery. That’s only one side of the coin. The other side is how receptive your audience will be. Subjective words about your presentation such as “awesome”, “jaw-dropping”, “inspiring”, or “captivating” are best defined not by yourself but by your presentation audience. And you can only elicit these positive reactions from them if you know your audience well.
Unfortunately, many of us fail to consider our audience in the picture. We naturally assume we already know our audience and what they want to hear. But this is something we not only need to consider but is primary even before you design your presentation. Here are 3 questions you should ask about your audience to learn more about them and what their motivations are:
1) “Who are they?”
This question is so obvious that it hardly deserves mention, yet it’s also something few actually ask prior any presentation. Ask key questions like what their gender and ages are, appearance, geographic location, occupation, hobbies, educational level and social status. It’s easy to assume the data for these without doing further research but a more in-depth analysis can spell the difference between an effective or ineffective content that targets a particular market segment.
2) “Why should they care?”
Again, don’t assume you already know this. Neither should you assume that just because you already have your entire audience seated in one room that you already command their attention. They may be physically present but mentally absent. Make a list of possible reasons on why they should even care and trim it down to 1-2 major reasons. These will give you a clearer picture of what will motivate them to listen to you and more importantly, be persuaded by or learn from your presentation.
3) “What’s the consequence for them?”
This is closely related to the second question but leaning more towards an adverse result than a positive one. If this sounds negative, well, it really is. Let’s face it. Ever since the concept about rewards and punishment was discovered among animals centuries ago, we humans are no different until this present day. Ask yourself what consequences are serious enough that these will get them out of their comfort zones or status quo and actually motivate them to listen to you and make a change or take action (if applicable). Use these major consequences to grab your audience’s attention at the start. You can also discreetly sprinkle the other possible consequences throughout your presentation.
What other questions do you ask about your presentation audience beforehand to help guarantee a more effective presentation? Let us know through your comments below.