Effective Presentations Guide #3

Know Your Audience

by  Al Valletta

If you want to be effective, you must know as much as possible about your audience. Who are they? What is their background? How much do they know about you and your product or company, etc.? The more work you do up front, the more research, the more homework, the better the chances for a successful end result.

What Is Their Background and Knowledge Level?

Are they managers? Are they engineers? Is their work directly related , or is it indirectly related, to the topic or product/service about which you are talking? How much do they know about the subject and/or your company? Are they technical or non-technical or is there a mix of both in your intended audience? You certainly don't want to appear to talk down to members of the audience, nor do you want to lose members of the audience by talking about items that are of no interest to them. Make sure you know what they . . . before hand!

What is their attitude?

Does the audience have a positive attitude coming into the presentation situation or are they likely to have some negative feelings even before you begin the presentation. Knowing this information can make a big difference on how you approach them. The presentation content and the way you deal with the audience should be greatly effected by the attitudes of the audience. How do they feel about each other? There might be some adversarial situations within the group. This is something of which you must be aware before you attempt to communicate effectively. The audience may be bodies just filling space; people who don't want to be there or don't really care one way or the other. If you discover this ahead of time, you shouldn't be making the presentation.

Know as much as possible before you begin. Have the ammunition you need to make the presentation successful. If you avoid audience needs, interests and attitudes, you will lose them. They will not listen. Neglecting this aspect of your presentation is like walking onto a firing range blindfolded. What are the odds of coming out of that situation unharmed? Walk into each session with your eyes wide open, knowing what to expect and loaded with ammunition.

Look for a continuation of this guide in the near future.

‹‹ Al Valletta
[About the Author]

Contact Al Valletta at valletta@dslextreme.com