When it comes to speaking in front of an audience, no matter if it is ten people or ten thousand, it pays to know who is in the audience. The importance of doing your research cannot be underestimated and will help to make your presentation a success.
In order to both connect with your audience and to have them relate to you there are certain aspects to be aware of when speaking.
Firstly, think about the listener – What do they want and need to hear?
Here are some further questions to consider:
- Are you a guest speaker at an event in a foreign country? If so, you may need to account for an interpreter or be aware of certain customs.
- Perhaps some of your attendees have vision or hearing impairments. How can you accommodate for this?
- Does your audience know the technical terms of your industry?
- Are your inside 'jokes' likely to isolate certain attendees?
- Recognising these clues and adjusting for them in your speech will go a long way in helping you to achieve a winning presentation.
Contact the event organiser and gauge how much your audience knows about your topic. Find out the demographics of the audience. If you can't speak directly to someone, head online and look at relevant websites and forums to gain more of an insight.
If possible, send a survey to the audience members prior to the event asking for their questions on the topic. This will help you to tailor your presentation to their needs.
Investigate the venue
Ensure that the venue is correctly set up ahead of time.
- The seating arrangement should be comfortable and optimised for acoustics and visibility
- Practise using any visual aids
- Check that the lighting is appropriate
- Test and make sure that the sound system works
Meet and greet
As your audience arrives, meet and greet them. This allows you to make a connection with individual members and helps to build rapport.
Your opening will have an impact on the response and reception of your audience.
Spend some time preparing the introduction, keeping your audience in mind. You may want to begin with a question which will encourage your audience members to think about your topic and its relevance to them.
Engage your audience
Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I'll remember. Involve me, I'll understand
~ Chinese Proverb
No matter the length of time that you have to present or even the size of your audience it's important to engage them during your presentation.
This could involve asking questions, small group discussions or a demonstration with an audience member.
Every activity needs to be relevant to your message and the needs of your audience.
What techniques do you use to get to know your audience?