Speakers: 6 Steps to Understanding Your Audience

Every audience has one thing in common: they want to know, “What’s in it for me?” If your robspeech or presentation is all about you, you’ll never grab and hold their interest.

So whether you’re presenting to a group of coworkers around a conference room table or to a thousand strangers in a ballroom, there are at least six questions you must ask in order to understand your audience and their needs.

1. Who Are They?

If you’re speaking at a conference, review the attendees list, talk to the organizers — maybe even interview a few audience members.

And even if it’s an audience you already feel familiar with — coworkers, for instance — you

need to get a deeper understanding of them beyond their names and job titles:

  • How do they like to receive information?
  • Are they big picture people or detail-oriented?
  • Are they impatient or relaxed?
  • What are their hot buttons?

A client of mine said that whenever he meets with a certain colleague he knows the first question will always be about budget. That’s the hot-button issue. So he starts every presentation with an assurance that his idea has been cleared with the financial people.


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