Audience Analysis and Presentation Success

Dynamic communication is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to develop three basic but very important communication skills: 1) conversation; 2) writing; 3) presenting.

I’d like to tell you a little story about Pat, one of my coaching clients. 

Pat was very good at her job. So good in fact, that she was asked to make a presentation to the President of her Division and his direct reports on a project that she had brought in on time and under budget.

Pat knew this was a big opportunity to strut her stuff for senior management. She spent hours writing and rewriting her presentation. Then she memorized it. She was confident that she would do a great talk and be on her way to a promotion and even more success.

However, Pat made the mistake of assuming that the President wanted all of the details of her project. She put together a 45 minute presentation. Her PowerPoint slides went into great detail.

A few minutes into her talk, the Division President said, “Pat, we don’t need all of these details, please give us a high level overview. We allowed only 15 minutes for your presentation. We have only 10 minutes left.”

That knocked Pat for a loop. She had memorized her talk, and had real difficulty in deviating from it. She went right back to saying what she had practiced, not what the President had asked her to do.

After a few minutes, Pat’s boss stepped in, and presented the highlights of her project, somewhat saving the day. Pat however, was devastated. She thought she had blown her one chance to make an impression with the President and his direct reports.

She came to me for some coaching on how to become a better presenter. I worked with her closely. One of the tips I gave her right at the start was to always make sure she understood what the audience wanted and expected from her presentation. If she had done this prior to her talk for the Division President, she wouldn’t have prepared and memorized a 45 minute talk. She would have come up with something shorter that hit the highlights of her project.

Pat got a second chance. By then, she had worked hard at becoming an excellent presenter. She wowed the President and his direct reports in her next talk, and eventually got the promotion that propelled her to a great career in her company.

Pat’s story illustrates the importance of analyzing your audience before you create a presentation.  Get to know exactly what they want and are expecting from you and your talk.  Once you do this, you can put together a presentation that will meet their wants and needs – and establish you as a dynamic communicator.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are dynamic communicators.  Dynamic communicators are great presenters.  If you want to become a great presenter, you need to spend time analyzing the audience for your talks.  My successful colleagues in the National Speakers Association do this.  They learn everything they can about who is in the audience and what they are expecting prior to crafting a talk.  If you do this, you’ll be able to create and deliver solid presentations that will meet the needs of your audiences, and in the process, gain a reputation as a great speaker and dynamic communicator.

That’s my take on the importance of audience analysis and effective presentations.  What’s yous?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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