Preparing a Presentation? Why Your Audience Matters Most

Preparing a Presentation? Why Your Audience Matters Most

August 5, 2015

When getting ready for a presentation, we all know the basics of what we need to do to prepare. But you may be forgetting the most important piece of the presentation puzzle -- your audience. 

During a presentation, connecting with your audience is one of the key things you can do to build rapport, market your services, and strengthen the ties to your community. The better you understand your audience’s goals, the more likely you are to achieve your desired outcomes. Remember, the audience is the heart of any presentation.  

Here are five tips to make sure you are prepared for your next presentation whether it’s to a group of doctors about the nutrition services you offer through your retailer or to a class of middle school students to inspire healthy eating.

  1. First things first, how big will the group be? Are you expecting five or 40 people? The size of the audience affects the type of presentation and the resources you’ll need. For a larger group, you might want to use Powerpoint to outline your main takeaways and even use a microphone so that everyone is on the same page and can hear you – with a smaller group, making sure your audience is following your information is much easier without the use of technology, as you can gauge interest with eye contact and facial expressions. You don’t want the technology to distract from your message, so use it sparingly. 
  2. Who is in your audience? Consider why your message matters to them and make sure to emphasize key action items during the presentation. So if you are talking about weight loss, wrapping up with three tangible takeaways is ideal, so the audience can leave with a simple action plan in mind. 
  3. What does your audience already know and what do they need to know? You don’t want to be repetitive, but you do want to share enough background information so your audience understands what you’re saying and how it affects them. Make sure you can answer: “What does my audience need to hear from me?”
  4. What is your audience likely to assume and which of those assumptions are correct vs. incorrect? Anticipating your audience’s assumptions helps you make better choices about how to present your content. We all know there are many misconceptions when it comes to nutrition, so get ready to debunk these in a way that doesn’t alienate the audience. 
  5. When creating your presentation, outline your talk using questions. This list of questions can serve as prompts for what you intend to say, serving as a practical tool to help you prepare and deliver. The power of a question-based outline is twofold: it allows you to feel more confident because you know the answers to your questions, and you’ll be more conversational, since you are simply answering your audience’s unasked questions. Conversational delivery is often better remembered by audiences than heavy slides or lecturing.

Presentations, Communication Book, Harvard Business Review
Stanford Business