Presenters should spend more time analyzing their audience and determining what
the audience needs to hear in order for them to understand and act upon the message of
the presentation. If you want to become a great presenter, you need to spend time
analyzing the audience for your talks. Any number of factors can affect how your
listeners will react. These can include their experience, education, job or professional
background, age, gender, ethnic background, cultural differences, and more.
Know the size of your audience:
the audience size determines the physical setting and,
in turn, guides the type of visuals you should use.
Know your audiences’ understanding level:
anticipate what they want to know. The
four main goals are to inform, request for an action, to persuade and build relationship.
Send them an outline of your basic ideas if possible. If your audience already knows a
good deal about your topic, your presentation should build on what your audience knows,
and not simply repeat what is already known. Good communicators also don't talk over
the head of others. If your audience knows little about your topic, tell them what they
need to know to respond as you want them to.
Know the attitudes and biases of your audience:
you should understand
your audience think about your topic? What do they think about you? Are they likely to
be skeptical - even hostile? Or are they likely to respond favorably? If your goal is to
persuade or motivate your audience, what biases, concerns or fears must you first
overcome to achieve your goal? If they have a high level of interest, you may be able to
cut to the chase quickly, going directly to your key messages. If their level is low, you
may have to build interest before getting to your main messages. You may, for example,
need to open with an especially strong grabber-a hook that will get everyone's attention
from the start.
You may also want to know the relationship of your audience members to one
another. Do they have common interests, or do their interests conflict with one another?
Again, the more you know about these, the more likely you are to connect with your
listeners from their point of view.
Know what motivates your audience:
Your audience may have strongly held views
about your topic. Is your audience likely to be friendly or hostile toward your point of
view? If they hold positive views about your topic and your messages, you'll be focusing
chiefly on reinforcing those views and reciting the benefits your listeners will receive. If
they hold negative views, you'll need a different strategy. You'll have to anticipate their