Effective Presentation Techniques: Know Your Audience

presentation techniquesMy research into effective presentation techniques demonstrates that, along with skilful delivery, an essential characteristic of a great presentation is knowing your audience. No great surprise there then, for these reasons:

Presentation Technique 1: Adding Value

In a business environment where to waste someone’s time is seen as a flogging offense, a business presentation has got to offer some perceived value to the individual audience member; some payback for the time invested. As The Sumo Guy (and presenter par excellence) Paul McGee explains you’ve got to nail down the answer to the question ‘how does my message benefit this audience?’ I’d say if you can’t come up with a clear, convincing answer to that question then give the gig a miss!

Presentation Technique 2: Meeting Needs

Aligned with benefits is the identification and meeting of the needs of the audience. The simplest question you can ask is ‘What do they need to know?  Or the classic question ‘What keeps them up at night? can really help. The psychologist Susan Quilliam gave me a different, and hugely insightful, perspective when she explained ‘you need to consider the emotional state of the audience because presenting is about emotional midwifery; taking a person from one emotional state to another’.

A question you might want to ask is ‘how might this audience feel about what I am presenting and how I am presenting it’? And then ‘how can I ensure the emotions of this audience are as positive as I can possibly make them?’

Presentation Technique 3: Style

Thirdly is ensuring that the style of the presentation is in line with the style and preferences of the audience. Jim Harvey at Allcow Communications puts this simply but effectively as ‘the presentation must be a fit for the audience … it’s in their interests, their language and the format that suits them’.

What about your presentation techniques?

So, as ever, I’ve got some questions for you! Such as; how (specifically) will the message in your next presentation benefit your audience? Do you know what keeps your audience up at night? How can you ensure the emotions of your audience are positive? How can you ensure that your presentation style is in line with the style and preference of your next audience?

Food for thought?

In the next blog in this series we’ll look at the presentation techniques of having a clear and effective structure

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